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Mastro(1) - Journal of Broadcasting Electronic...

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Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media /December 2009 The Influence of Exposure to Depictions of Race and Crime in TV News on Viewer’s Social Judgments Dana Mastro, Maria Knight Lapinski, Maria A. Kopacz, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz This two-study experimental design utilizes a group-based priming framework to investigate the relationship between exposure to television news portrayals that intersect race with violent crime and viewers’ real-world racial judgments. Results from Study 1 reveal that both the gender of the viewer and the race of the TV news suspect influence subsequent judgments, including attributions about the perpetrator and victim. Findings from Study 2 offer somewhat consistent results, additionally indicating that the race of the depicted suspect has a significant effect on attitudes toward Blacks in greater society, beyond the mediated context. Research on stereotyping in the United States reveals persistent racial prejudice among Whites, particularly regarding the characterization of Blacks as violent and aggressive (St. John & Heald-Moore, 1996). These beliefs have been found to man- ifest in a heightened fear (among Whites) of victimization at the hands of racial minorities, specifically young, Black males. Both theory and empirical evidence indicate that media exposure contributes to the construction and perpetuation of these perceptions by disproportionately depicting racial/ethnic minorities as criminal suspects and Whites as victims in television news (Dixon, 2007; Dixon & Linz, 2000a, 2000b). Further, consuming these messages has been shown to provoke prejudicial responses among White viewers (Dixon, 2007, 2008; Dixon & Maddox, 2005). Given the social significance of these findings, it is important to consider Dana Mastro (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include the influence of media exposure on issues of race/ethnicity and identity-based outcomes. Maria Knight Lapinski (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University. Her research interests include cultural differences in health and risk communication. Maria A. Kopacz (Ph.D., University of Arizona) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communi- cation Studies at West Chester University. Her research interests include intergroup communication in the context of new media technologies. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz (Ph.D., University of Arizona) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her research interests include media effects, gender, race, sexuality, and video games.
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