Race and SES Interact to Influence Blame Judgments
54 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 10, 2015
Both black juveniles and low-socioeconomic status (SES) juveniles are disproportionately represented in the U.S. legal system, yet minimal experimental work has addressed how race and SES might interact when predicting potential jurors’ judgments about juvenile guilt, blame, and punishment. Across two vignette experiments (N = 799) that varied a juvenile defendant’s race (black or white) and SES (low or high), we found that race and SES interacted such that low-SES black and high-SES white juveniles tended to be judged as more guilty, more blameworthy, and more deserving of punishment than their high-SES black and low-SES white counterparts. Moreover, perceptions of the juveniles’ likelihood of recidivism, past criminality, and character may mediate these effects. These perhaps surprising results add to a growing body of literature suggesting that stereotypes or other irrelevant factors may influence blame judgments and have important implications for the justice system.
Keywords: blame, juror judgment and decision-making, race, socioeconomic status, law
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