November 18, 2022

Psychology and Ethnic Violence

Outline

  • Psychological motives?
  • Policing
    • psychology of racial bias
    • structure of racial bias

Recap

Psychological Motives

Social Identity Theory and Relational Models Theory …

  • describe why individuals have psychological motive to commit violence
  • predictions about what sorts of circumstances will trigger these motives
  • implication is that violence is intentionally ethnic

Psychological Motives?

But when we discussed what “ethnic violence” is…

  • violence need not be “intentionally” ethnic
  • especially when violence constitutes the ethnic boundary

Policing and Race

Policing and Race

When we considered race and police use-of-force in the US, we saw that:

  1. Racial disparities in frequency (Black Americans more likely to be victims)
  2. Disparities do not appear to be due to statistical discrimination

Policing and Race

statistical discrimination:

inequality that exists between demographic groups even though economic agents (consumers, workers, employers, etc.) are rational and non-prejudiced.

  • Discrimination can be “rational” if individual attributes are hard to observe (e.g. propensity toward crime) while group membership is observable and different groups have different behaviors on average.
  • Discrimination is “rational” if relevant considerations (threat, criminal activity) objectively correlate with group membership

Policing and Race

When we considered race and police use-of-force in the US, we saw that:

  1. Racial disparities in frequency (Black Americans more likely to be victims)
  2. Disparities do not appear to be due to statistical discrimination
  3. Estimates of discrimination are almost certainly underestimates
  • How do you explain why there is this racial disparity?

Policing and Race

taste-based discrimination:

inequality that exists in treatment demographic groups due to some gain/utility that agents gain by discriminating.

  • racial hatred, SIT/in-group preference leads people to value discrimination
  • ethnic discrimination is intentional and based on some kind of animus

Another possibility…

implicit bias

when we have attitudes towards people or associate stereotypes with them without our conscious knowledge.


Police may unconsciously associate criminality and threatening behavior with Black Americans.

  • implicit bias regarding threat \(\to\) racial disparity in police use of force

Activity

https://www.projectimplicit.net/

click on:

  • ‘Take a Test’
  • then ‘I wish to proceed’ (bottom)
  • ‘Weapons IAT’ (blue buttons)
  • ‘decline to answer’ demographic questions

Activity

What does this test measure?

What do you think it can tell us about police use of force?

Implicit Association Test

Assuming that people who hold a stereotype (“Black \(=\) Dangerous”) are quicker to respond when task is compatible with stereotype than when task is incompatible…

Then, score for Implicit Bias is:

\(\mathrm{\overbrace{Speed(Black+Tool) - Speed(Black+Weapon)}^{Positive \ if \ associates \ Black = Dangerous}}\)

\(-\)

\(\mathrm{\overbrace{Speed(White+Tool) - Speed(White+Weapon)}^{Negative \ if \ associates \ White = Safe}}\)

  • What do you think this means?

Implicit Bias in Policing

Correll et al (2014) describe body of work on implicit bias in policing:

  • policing simulation
  • portray a person in “naturalistic setting”
  • vary the race of the person
  • vary whether person holds weapon, harmless object
  • “player” of simulation, chooses to shoot, not shoot

Implicit Bias in Policing