Study: People faster to shoot white suspects than black suspects

Study: People faster to shoot white suspects than black suspects

A new study in the Journal of Experimental Criminology finds in an experiment measuring the reactions of participants to various threatening situations that people tended to pull the trigger faster when confronted by armed white suspects. This sounds counterintuitive to most people (including me). A 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics report (latest available) analyzed justifiable homicides and noted:

Felons justifiably killed by police represent a tiny fraction of the total population. Of the 183 million whites in 1998, police killed 225; of the 27 million blacks, police killed 127. While the rate (per million population) at which blacks were killed by police in 1998 was about 4 times that of whites, the difference used to be much wider: the black rate in 1978 was 8 times the white rate.

The BJS study also found that black suspects were also as likely to shoot at police as be shot at.

In the deadly force experiments participants (85 percent white) face a life-sized HD video screen on which the stance, clothing, hand motions, objects being held, and race of suspects can all be modified. The subjects are hooked up to brain wave measuring devices and can respond using a laser gun. The press materials from Washington State University detailing the results report:

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