Racial disparities in the US criminal justice system (CJS) have been extensively documented in scholarly work. Critical race scholars have suggested that color-blind racial attitudes inform the set of beliefs that CJS practitioners use in decision making. If this is the case, factors that are related to color-blind racial attitude trends in CJS practitioners must be better understood. We focus on a single CJS practitioner—the police—to assess their color-blind racial beliefs and compare these to the broader US public. Using the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS), we identified sociodemographic variables associated with high CoBRAS scores in a multiracial lay sample (N = 1401; males and females, mean age = 33.4 years). Police (N = 112) and police recruits (N = 52) CoBRAS scores were compared to CoBRAS scores of lay participants with similar sociodemographics as the police and recruit samples, (respectively, N = 451; N = 291). Police scored significantly higher on the CoBRAS than laypersons even when controlling for sociodemographic variables. Police recruits also have higher CoBRAS scores than laypersons, again controlling for sociodemographic variables. These findings suggest that police work attracts people who endorse color-blind racial beliefs. These findings make understanding the relationship between color-blind racial beliefs and discriminatory behavior of CJS practitioners imperative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-170
Number of pages11
JournalRace and Social Problems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Color-blind
  • Criminal justice
  • Police
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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