Stereotypic Crimes: How Group Crime Associations Affect Memory and (Sometimes) Verdicts and Sentencing
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
The biasing effects of stereotypes on judgment can be particularly damaging to individuals within the legal arena. In Experiment 1, we surveyed 179 participants regarding 55 crimes to assess which crimes they viewed as stereotypical of 13 different groups of people. We found stereotypic crimes for different ethnic groups, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and age. In Experiments 2 and 3, we used those data to examine the effects of crime stereotypicality on mock jurors memories, verdicts, and sentencing decisions. Overall, we found that memory for the defendant's race was better for stereotypic than non-stereotypic crimes. Like previous studies, we found that verdict and sentencing decisions are sometimes biased by the stereotypicality of the crime. Because we used the results from Experiment 1 to unconfound crime stereotypicality and crime violence, our results shed light on the mixed results of previous research regarding racial disparities in the courtroom.