Implicit Bias (Shoot/Don’t Shoot), Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Implicit Bias, according to American Value Institute (2009), arose conceptually as w way of explaining why discriminations persist, even though polling and other research clearly has shown that people oppose it.

The contradiction, according to American Value Institute (2009), can be reconciled somewhat be examining the complexity of the human brain.  Advances made in neuroscience and other social sciences have helped to advance the reasoning behind why people can hold egalitarian values, but at the same time act upon racial biases without even be conscious that this bias actually exists.

In terms of the implicit bias surrounding shoot or don’t shoot, Correll, Wittenbrink, Park, Judd, & Govle (2010), argues that research has shown participants shoot armed Blacks more frequently and quickly than armed Whites as well as utter don’t shoot responses more quickly for unarmed Whites than for Blacks in similar situations..

Correll et al. (2010), further argues that bias was the cause why the perception of threat was felt toward Black males and it create pre-dispositions to shoot, while if the same cues were present in the case of Whites, shooting would be unlikely, and situations like this constitute racial bias.

Implicit Bias was read into the tragic shooting of the unarmed black victim, Timothy Thomas in April 2007 by the police in a dark alley, after he reportedly ran when confronted, according to Correll et al. (2010). In addition to his color, he was living in a poor neighborhood which had high crime rates as well as a large population on minorities, and the statement by the shooting officer that he had a gun.

Arguments explaining the possible reasons why the incident occurred could be extracted from Werthman & Piliavins (1967), who remarked that the officer’s perception was tainted by ecological contamination in the environment he was operating in at the time. They evoke that when officer believe that people in dangerous neighborhoods are more dangerous, they will always treat them with more extreme forces.

Correll et al. (2010), reports that they have been using first person shooter task (FPST) model to test the decision process officers use to shoot or not to shoot as far back as 2002, and in their methodology, officers were exposed to equal amount of Black and White images of young males who were both armed and unarmed against park and neighborhood backgrounds.

In the study according to Correll et al. (2010), they were instructed to press a specific button to indicate shoot and another color in they decided not to shoot the image presented before them. The result which was based on the influence the targets race had on the propensity of the participants to shoot, showed bias against Blacks that were both armed and unarmed, due to the quick shoot responses when they were armed and the slower responses not to shoot as compared to the White counterparts.

The fact that the researchers like Greenwald, Oaks, & Hofman (2003), Payne (2001) and Plant, Peruche & Butz, (2005), obtained similar results using different parameters enable Correll et al (2010), to conclude that their hypothesis regarding the prevalence on implicit bias against  Blacks by participants in the project was correct.

However in an effort to ensure objectivity models were developed to minimize the level of biasness. Correll et al. (2010),  predicted with great accuracy that there were that as  association between race and danger become more pronounce, the level of biasness will increase and any cue that activate the concept of danger will create a pre-disposition on the part of participants to shoot.

Individual fighting crimes are often challenged according to Cacioppo & Berntson (1994), to distinguish between opportunities and threats in the environment they are operating in, because constantly they have to integrate both positive and negative complex information and interpret them before deciding whether to shoot or not to shoot.

Maner et al. (2005) in their study examined how internal emotional or motivational states can effect bias perceptions, and concluded that when individuals are in self protective frame of mind, they rate out-groups as more angry and will respond as quickly as possible to eliminate any perceived threat.

However, an issue of concern in hostile environments where officers have to decide whether to shoot or not to shoot, according to Trawalter, Todd, Baird & Richeson (2008), was the color of the faces they observed and whether direct of averted gaze was present.

Participants in Trawalter et al. (2008), study were found to exhibit preferential treatment towards Blacks displaying direct threatening gazes in contrast to Whites with averted gazes, due to the perception that the direct gaze were seen as threatening cues.

Correll et al. (2010), on the other hand saw this feature as secondary in terms of exacerbating racial discrepancies as it was of no consequence in the data they compiled.

In explaining the eye gaze Trawalter et al. (2008), rejected the idea that gazes observed were threat signals  by informing the scientific community that they were approach motivations that can transmit a number of intentions ranging from very positive to very negative, depending on the whether the source was from Blacks or Whites.

Scientifically, the use of research models to simulate the process and determine the reasons for the display of any form implicit bias in any operations, according to Correll et al. (2010), the nature  in which the stimulus are presented differs in many of the studies examined. It was found that some researchers presented their primes and targets in sequential fashion in comparison to Correll et al (2010), study in which targets and contextual information were presented simultaneously. Differences in the presentation provide grounds for variations in the analytical results and decisions made regarding the reasons why implicit biases were detected.

Wedell, Parduci, & Geiselman (1987), provided substantive evidence to the argument that contrasting results can emerge from the different modal simulations regarding the primes. In their study, these scientists showed significant contrast emerging for sequential primes, in comparison to assimilation found when they simultaneously applied the primes to the process.

Implicit Bias is therefore a very important psychological concept that will require even more scientific studies from Sociologist, Psychologists, Criminologist and other related scientists, to provide more accurate information and empirical data that will aid in the reduction of its occurrences, especially from a behavioral perspective from police officers operating in environments that they perceive to be ecologically contaminated, and believe that they have to react with greater force to exert their authority.

According to Correll (2010), there are a number of data sources inclusive of citizen complaints, local police agency records, the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as social observations which points to the fact that police use of force, including firearms, are applied more frequently and severely even with fatal consequences, when they are dealing with young Blacks and Latinos.

However, in injecting more balance on the concepts and its application in societies that has high crime rates and police officers lives are more endangered, a potentially dangerous and disadvantaged neighborhood should not necessarily prompt the use of extreme force base on race according to Correll et al (2010), and although racial cues can and do signal threats, racial threat perceptions may be just one manifestation of a comprehensive threat  detection process that will definitely need more studies and stringent monitoring.

This collaborative approach, should in the long term contribute significantly to the reduction of the frequency of use of implicit biases as well as improvement in the level of professionalism and understanding that  police officers will bring on the streets to fight crime and violence.

Reference

American Values Institute (2009). What is Implicit Bias Equal Justice Society www.americanforamericanvalues.org/unconsciousbias , 12/10/11

Cacioppo, J.T., Berntson, C.C. (1994). Relationship between attitudes and evaluative space: A Critical Review, with emphasis on the separability of positive and negative substrates Physiological Bulletin Vol. 115 pp.401-423

Correll, J., Wittenbrink, B., Park, B., Judd, C.M. & Goyle, A. (2000). Dangerous enough: Moderating racial bias with contextual threat cues Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2010) DOI 10.1016/Jjesp.2010.08017 www.faculty.chicagobooth.edu/bernd.wittenbrink/research/pdf/cwplg.10.pdf , 12/10/11

Greenwald, A.C., Oaks, M.A., Hoffman, H.C. (2003). Targets of discrimination: Effects of race on response to weapon holders Journal of Experimental Psychology Vol.39 pp.399-405

Maner, J.K., Kendrick, D.T., Becker, D.V., Robertson, T.C., Hofer, B., Neuberg, S.L., et al. (2005). Functional Protection: How fundamental social motives can bias interpersonal perception Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Vo.88 Issue 1 pp. 63-78

Plant, E.A., Peruche, B.M., & Butz, D. M. (2005). Eliminating automatic racial bias: Making race non-diagnostic for responses to criminal suspects Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Vol. 41 pp.141-156

Trawalter, S., Todd, A.R., Baird, A.A., & Richeson, J.A. (2008). Attending to the threat: Race based patterns of selective attention Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Vol. 44 Issue 5 pp.1322-1327

Wedell, D.H., Parducci, A. & Geiselman, R.E., (1987). A formal Analysis of ratings of physical attractiveness: Successive contract and simultaneous assimilation Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Vol.23 pp.230-241

Werthman, C., Piliavins, I. (1967). Gang members and police. In D. Bordua (Ed.)  The Police : Six Sociological essays Wiley, New York NY.

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