Reading 5 - death_race

Reading 5- - PS YC HOLOGICA L SC IENCE Research Report Looking Deathworthy Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts

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Research Report Looking Deathworthy Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts Capital-Sentencing Outcomes Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 1 Paul G. Davies, 2 Valerie J. Purdie-Vaughns, 3 and Sheri Lynn Johnson 4 1 Department of Psychology, Stanford University; 2 Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; 3 Department of Psychology, Yale University; and 4 Cornell Law School ABSTRACT— Researchers previously have investigated the role of race in capital sentencing, and in particular, whether the race of the defendant or victim inFuences the likelihood of a death sentence. In the present study, we examined whether the likelihood of being sentenced to death is inFuenced by the degree to which a Black defen- dant is perceived to have a stereotypically Black appear- ance. Controlling for a wide array of factors, we found that in cases involving a White victim, the more stereo- typically Black a defendant is perceived to be, the more likely that person is to be sentenced to death. Race matters in capital punishment. Even when statistically controlling for a wide variety of nonracial factors that may in- Fuence sentencing, numerous researchers have found that murderers of White victims are more likely than murderers of 1994; Baldus, Woodworth, Zuckerman, Weiner, & Brof±tt, 1998; Bowers, Pierce, & McDevitt, 1984; Gross & Mauro, 1989; Ra- delet, 1981; U.S. General Accounting Of±ce, GAO, 1990). The U.S. GAO (1990) has described this race-of-victim effect as ‘‘remarkably consistent across data sets, states, data collection methods, and analytic techniques’’ (p. 5). In one of the most comprehensive studies to date, the race of the victim and the race of the defendant each were found to inFuence sentencing (Baldus et al., 1998). Not only did killing a White person rather than a Black person increase the likelihood of being sentenced to death, but also Black defendants were more likely than White defendants to be sentenced to death. In the current research, we used the data set from this study by Baldus and his colleagues (1998) to investigate whether the prob- ability of receiving the death penalty is significantly inFuenced by the degree to which the defendant is perceived to have a stereo- typically Black appearance (e.g., broad nose, thick lips, dark skin). In particular, we considered the effect of a Black defendant’s per- ceived stereotypicality for those cases in which race is most sali- ent—when a Black defendant is charged with murdering a White victim. Although systematic studies of death sentencing have been conducted for decades, no prior studies have examined this potential inFuence of physical appearance on death-sentencing decisions. A growing body of research demonstrates that people more
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2010 for the course SOCIOLOGY 306 taught by Professor Decoster during the Spring '10 term at N.C. State.

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Reading 5- - PS YC HOLOGICA L SC IENCE Research Report Looking Deathworthy Perceived Stereotypicality of Black Defendants Predicts

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