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A video game tests racial bias – and the willingness to pull the trigger

Joshua Correll, a member of the University of Chicago Department of Psychology faculty, in conjunction with his work with the Stereotyping & Prejudice Research Laboratory, has created The Police Officer’s Dilemma, a video game that tests the effect of racial bias on decisions to shoot.

When you launch the game, you are presented with a series of images of young men against various backgrounds. Some of the men hold guns, while others hold innocent items like cellphones or soda cans. Half of the men are black and half are white. You must shoot all armed men but holster your gun at the sight of those who are unarmed. The game tests whether the target’s race influences the decision to shoot. The results are chilling:

Participants shoot an armed target more quickly and more often when that target is Black, rather than White. However, participants decide not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly and more often when the target is White, rather than Black. In essence, participants seem to process stereotype-consistent targets (armed Blacks and unarmed Whites) more easily than counterstereotypic targets (unarmed Blacks and armed Whites).

To play the game, you can test yourself with the beta version. You may be shocked by the results.

(Via On the Ground.)

                        author

Diane J. Levin

Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property… MORE >

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