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Police-brutality, especially directed towards black people, has been a hot-button issue in the media for the past few years. With the constant exposure to the death and brutalization of black bodies, however, some people, especially black people, have reported experiencing emotional defects as a result of these reports. The current study aims to see how exposure to police-brutality related journalism affects implicit emotional processes, such as approach-avoidance motivations. More specifically, the current study seeks to see if the race of the person whom police-brutality is directed towards in these journalistic reports further influences these effects. From a college-aged population, black and white participants (N=18) were randomly assigned to one of either two conditions: Black-Civilian or White-Civilian. To measure participant’s approach-avoidance behaviors both before and after being exposed to these stories, the current study uses an Emotional Lexical Decision Task (ELDT.) Using four 2 (time: pre-exposure, post-exposure) x 3 (valence: negative, positive, neutral) repeated measures ANOVAs, participants’ response times to negative words were analyzed to see if there was a main effect of exposure. I hypothesized that across each condition, black participants would have significantly slower response times to negative words after reading the article, compared to white participants. Furthermore, I hypothesized that black participants in the black-civilian condition would have the most significantly slower response times to negative stimuli. The results of the current study found no significant difference in response times to negative stimuli before or after exposure for any race x condition category. Possible explanations for these results and limitations of the current study are discussed.
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Riddick, Chanya, "The Unwilling Spectator: How Secondary Exposure to Trauma Through Journalism Affects Our Emotional Processing" (2018). Senior Projects Spring 2018. 422.