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Past research has suggested that the media is likely to depict Black individuals in a more negative and/or threatening manner than White individuals (Dixon & Linz, 2000; Sommers et al., 2006). Additionally, past research investigating the effect of race on the decision to shoot or not shoot in a simple shooter videogame suggests that people are both faster and more accurate when deciding to shoot armed Black targets and when deciding to not shoot unarmed White targets (Correll et al., 2002). This phenomenon is known as shooter bias. This study investigated the effect of media exposure, specifically exposure to an online news article, on an individual’s shooter bias. Participants read an article depicting either a Black or White individual committing a crime directly before completing a shooter game. Contrary to past research, results revealed no main effects of race or item (gun vs. no gun) on reaction time. However, a race x item interaction was observed for reaction time, as was an item x condition interaction for inaccuracy. Participants were faster to react to targets if the target was Black and held a random object. They were also more inaccurate in their decisions while playing the game if they had read the media article with the White criminal and the target was holding a random object. Results revealed a main effect of item for both shooting and not shooting, such that participants were more likely to shoot armed targets and more likely to not shoot unarmed targets. A main effect of condition on participant’s likelihood to not shoot targets was also observed, such that participants who read the article with the White criminal were less likely to shoot targets while playing the shooter game. Neither explicit attitudes towards racial minorities nor explicit ratings of fear experienced while reading the media article correlated with reaction times.
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Phelps, Matthew Charles, "Media and the Shooter Bias: Investigating the Relationship Between Implicit Racial Biases and News Coverage" (2017). Senior Projects Spring 2017. 251.