• Mass shooter bias : public perception of crime facilitates counter-stereotypic outcomes

      Valencia, Kelsey (2020-05)
      Extensive research depicts a stereotypic association of aggression and criminal activity with African Americans, such as participants perceiving ambiguous behaviors as more threatening and aggressive when committed by Black targets and identifying crime-relevant objects faster when primed with Black targets (Eberhardt, Purdie, Goff, & Davies, 2004; Sinclair & Kunda, 1999). Within the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of mass shootings in America. With the rise in this violent crime, which is often perpetrated by White males, there is potentially a new association between White targets and aggression in the context of a mass shooting scenario which runs counter to the previously established stereotype linking aggression to Black perpetrators. Therefore, a study was conducted to identify whether this association between White targets and mass shootings exists and what other attributes are associated with the stereotype of mass shooters. Participants completed an online survey that asked them to rate the likelihood that motivational characteristics and personality traits were related to the criminal they read about. Subjects also rated the likelihood that males from four different racial/ethnic groups committed the individual or mass shooting they read about. Results found that White males were rated most likely to be the mass shooter and to be motivated by mental illness, hate, and social alienation. Contrary to the hypothesis, White males were also rated as being the most likely to have committed the single shooting.