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How Caring is "Nullified:" Strong Racial Identity Eliminates White Participant Empathy Effects when Police Shoot an Unarmed Black Male

Johnson, James D. (2018) How Caring is "Nullified:" Strong Racial Identity Eliminates White Participant Empathy Effects when Police Shoot an Unarmed Black Male. Psychology of Violence, TBC . TBC. ISSN 2152-0828

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Abstract

Objective: Despite growing national and international attention given to White police officers’ shooting unarmed Black men, there has been minimal empirical focus on the factors that might influence how Whites respond to such violence. Among a sample of White Americans, we assessed whether the influence of trait empathy on responses to a White police officer shooting an unarmed Black male would be moderated by White racial identity. Method: 349 MTurk participants completed measures of racial identity and trait empathy, then read a passage describing a White police officer shooting an unarmed stereotypical or counterstereotypical Black male. The victim's conformity to racial stereotypes was manipulated as a potential moderator. Participants subsequently indicated whether the Black victim was perceived as a threat, whether the White police officer was viewed as racist, and the extent to which the victim should be blamed and compensated. Results: At lower levels of White racial identity, there was less perceived victim threat, greater perceptions of officer racism, and more favorable victim responding for high empathic relative to low empathic participants. Conversely, at higher levels of racial identity, the impact of empathy was significantly diminished. This moderation effect only occurred when the victim conformed to common racial stereotypes. Conclusions: The findings indicate that the empathy and racial identification of White observers, and Black victim characteristics drive reactions to both the victim and White police officer. Thus, these variables have implications for jury selection, investigations of police misconduct, and even how the media portrays victims of interracial violence.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Fulori Nainoca
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2018 09:22
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2019 11:42
URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/11161
UNSPECIFIED

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