Race and Criminal History as Determinants of Sympathy toward Exonerated Persons
Young, Keli A.
- Research has shown that people choose to believe information in spite of it being proved inaccurate and that inadmissible evidence in criminal trials has a harsher effect on Black defendants than White defendants. Similarly, it has been found that White men with criminal records have more employment opportunities than Black men without criminal records. This study is a 2x2 (Race: Black or White x ... read moreCriminal History: Criminal History and No Criminal History) between-subject design which sought to expand on research already conducted by exploring the interaction between race and criminal history on sympathy felt toward exonerated persons. The participants were undergraduate students ranging in age from 18-22 and randomly assigned to conditions. I hypothesized that participants placed in the group where the exoneree was Black with a criminal history would have the least amount of sympathy, while those in the group where the exoneree was White without a criminal history would have the greatest amount of sympathy. Furthermore, I hypothesized that both White conditions would have higher sympathy levels than both Black conditions. One of the significant findings showed that a criminal record led to lower scores of moral outrage as well as the defendant being seen as more to blame for the wrongful conviction and more likely to commit a crime in the future. Overall, the results highlighted the impacts of race and criminal history on levels of sympathy as well as the need for more research to be done on the subject.read less