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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Non-skin Racial Cues and their Impact on Misidentification

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2005
End Date 06/30/2006
Funding Source N/A
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM


  John Petraitis

Student Researchers
  Laura Gardner


Previous research indicates that individuals automatically encode race when they encounter an unfamiliar person. When identifying a crime suspect whose race is not apparent through skin-tone, racial stereotypes may influence this automatic encoding process. Misidentifications account for a significant portion of wrongful conviction in the United States. The media often distribute images of perpetrators as African-American males; this stereotype may have an effect on an eyewitness' ability to make a correct identification. 103 undergraduate university students participated in this study. Participants viewed 1 of 4 short pictures sequences of car-jacking where the race of the perpetrator was indeterminable. Some of the pictures contained stereotypically African-American cues and others contained race-neutral cues. Results indicate that the cues, particularly the person cues influenced participants' identification of the race of the suspect. This research further establishes the faulty nature of eyewitness accounts and solidifies the importance of stereotypes in race encoding.

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