Quilty of a crime

The aim is the see whether people are more likely to find a black man guilty of a crime. Having found both a black man and a white man of middle attractiveness out of a choice of 10 photos picked from magazines, subjects were read a short account of a crime and rated the guilt of the offender on a scale of 0 to 10 (with 0 being not guilty). I used subjects aged between 11 and 18, all were Caucasian and attended Sevenoaks School. I used 75 subjects in total. They were shown either the picture of the black man, the picture of the white man or no picture as a control.

The results showed that the black man was perceived to be more guilty than the white man. The average guilt rating of the white man was 5. 2 and for the black man was 6. 98. Using the Mann-Whitney U test, this data was shown to be significant at the 5% level. This illustrates that certain racial stereotypes still exist in society but perhaps on a subconscious level. Introduction Theory In 1954 Bruner and Tagiuri theorised that our perceptions of others are not based on reality but on our general expectations.

Everyone has ideas about which personality traits are consistent with other personality or physical traits. This theory is Implicit Personality Theory (IPT), this is an "unconscious inference process that enables us to form impressions of people based on very little evidence. " IPTs are shared by everyone in a culture and govern their behaviour at an unconscious level. IPT can be demonstrated using experimental techniques and manifests itself in many ways, for example, stereotyping. In stereotyping IPT relates to a physical or visual aspect of a person like race or sex.

This physical appearance generates other judgements about a person's personality. In 1933 Katz and Braly conducted an experiment into ethnic stereotypes. They asked Princeton University students to indicate which 5 words out of 84 they would associate with 10 different ethnic groups. If more than 75% of students associated a characteristic with one group it was considered a stereotype. Blacks were stereotyped as "lazy", "immoral", "dishonest" and "given to crimes of violence". This experiment is criticised because it lacks reliability and relevance to modern society.

It was conducted in 1933 in America, we live in another century and society has developed enormously. Gilbert repeated the experiment in 1951 and Karlins in 1969 and in each subsequent experiment the stereotypes were significantly weaker. When this experiment is repeated it produces different results and so is unreliable. Subjects showed increasing reluctance to participate because they were less willing to express stereotypes. This is relevant in my experiment because I want to see if whites consider blacks as more likely criminals.

I believe that certain social stereotypes still exist at a subconscious level but that people are less willing to express these stereotypes. The Howard League, a prison reform group, published an article in the London Metro on the 22nd of March 2000 titled "Justice is biased against blacks" (see appendix). This is an article written by a prison reform group and may be biased towards its cause. This evidence illustrates that racism is an issue in the British legal system and this is why I wish to conduct my experiment. My aim is to see whether people are more likely to find a black man guilty of a crime.

I am measuring whether or not racism affects legal decisions. I have operationalised this by asking people to judge how guilty they believe a person to be on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being not guilty and 10 being guilty, producing ordinal data. My rationale is that because my experiment is a comparison of data between a black defendant and a white defendant, the numerical value of these ratings is less important. However this assumes that subjects consider a specific number to be a similar measure of guilt, as it is a small scale this should be the case. Methodology

Sampling I chose a rather select group for my experiment. All were pupils from Sevenoaks School, aged between 11 and 18 and Caucasian. This eliminated variables such as age. Also Sevenoaks is a co-educational, international school and so its students maybe more culturally aware. I asked every pupil I saw at both first break and lunch break over two days standing by the School Library. Procedure Preliminary experiment The attractiveness of 10 pictures of white men and 10 of black men (from magazines) were rated with 1 being the most attractive and 10 being the least.

I calculated the mean attractiveness of each man and took the two men of middle attractiveness, one white and one black (Results are in the appendix). This ensured that attractiveness was not a variable in my final experiment. Main experiment Using the two pictures from my preliminary experiment, I prepared and read to all subjects the account of a crime and verbatim instructions (see appendix) asking subjects to rate the defendants guilt on a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being definitely guilty and 0 being definitely not guilty.

The account was a summary of a burglary. After this I either showed the subject no picture (25 subjects) as a control, the picture of a white man (25 subjects) or the picture of the black man (25 subjects). The subjects then rated the defendant's guilt. My control was to see how people rated the defendant without seeing a picture giving me an idea of how people perceive the account of the crime.