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Social, Behavioral & Experimental Economics (SBEE): Does Black and Blue Matter?: An Experimental Investigation of Race and Perceptions of Police Bias

Mackenzie Alston, Florida State University
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
1:00-2:15 PM
High profile acts of violence by police against black civilians has renewed discussion of the racial bias held by police officers and inspired major policy pushes to increase the diversity of police departments. An underlying assumption is that a more racially diverse police department will lead to less racial bias and more public trust in police officers. In an experiment, we examine the potential consequences of such policies. First, we test whether black and white civilians perceive a difference in the probability of punishment when interacting with white versus minority police officers. Subjects are asked to imagine that they are driving through a real but unnamed city in the United States. They are incentivized to reach their destination quickly; however, they have the potential of receiving a speeding ticket, which will reduce their earnings. Subjects are told that the probability that they receive a speeding ticket depends on their characteristics, real speeding tickets issued to people driving through that city, and information about people's general speeding behavior. In one treatment, prior to deciding how fast they wish to drive, subjects receive a description of a city with a predominantly white police department. In the other treatment, subjects are informed that the city has a predominantly non-white police department. By comparing subjects' speed in both treatments, we are able to determine whether subjects perceive they'll be treated equally by both white and minority police officers and whether the race of the subject affects this perception.

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Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Type: Workshop / Seminar
Tags: Economics, seminar
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Economics, Social, Behavioral, and Experimental Economics (SBEE)