Priming crime and activating blackness: Understanding the psychological impact of the overrepresentation of blacks as lawbreakers on television news

Travis L Dixon, Cristina L. Azocar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Two experiments examined the extent to which U.S. viewers' perceptions that Blacks face structural limitations to success, support for the death penalty, and culpability judgments could be influenced by exposure to racialized crime news. Participants were exposed to a majority of Black suspects, a majority of White suspects, unidentified suspects, and noncrime news stories. In addition, participants' prior news viewing was assessed. In Study 1, heavy news viewers exposed to unidentified perpetrators were less likely than heavy news viewers exposed to noncrime stories to perceive that Blacks face structural limitations to success. In addition, heavy news viewers exposed to unidentified perpetrators were more likely than heavy news viewers exposed to noncrime stories to support the death penalty. In Study 2, participants exposed to a majority of Black suspects were more likely than participants exposed to noncrime stories to find a subsequent race-unidentified criminal culpable for his offense. In addition, heavy news viewers were more likely to exhibit the above effect than light news viewers. The methodological and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed in light of chronic activation and the priming paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-253
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Communication
Volume57
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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