Term of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

C. Thresa Yancey

Committee Member 1

Jeffrey Klibert

Committee Member 2

Ryan Couillou


Recent social unrest has highlighted differences in how crime is perceived based upon the race of the perpetrator. Decades of research suggests criminality is more easily associated with racial and ethnic minorities leading to the racialization of crime. Mutz (1994) noted there are personal factors as well as impersonal factors influencing views regarding race and crime. Research suggests the strongest impersonal influence on society’s perception is the media (Gilliam et al., 2002; Umair, 2016). Therefore, the narrative of linking race and crime, which is prevalent in news media, is reinforced every time viewers tune in to their local news. Additionally, personal factors such as values, personality, the area in which one resides, and political beliefs influence one’s acceptance of the racialized crime narrative (Gilliam, Valentino, & Beckmann, 2002). Thus, the primary aim of the current study was two-fold: ( a) to examine differences in the saliency racial bias regarding who commits crime in rural and non-rural areas and (b) to examine if the presence racially stereotypical name within a crime vignette elicits prejudicial beliefs when compared to a non-descript crime vignette. Results were inconsistent with expected findings. Specifically, neither geographic location nor vignette type significantly influenced participant’s racial bias regarding crime, punitive judgments, or sentencing recommendations. Additionally, Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) are associated with racially prejudicial beliefs and influence views on who commits crime (e.g., Crawford, Jussim, Cain, & Cohen, 2014). Therefore, the second aim of the study was to examine the association between sociopolitical constructs, as measured by SDO and RWA, and punitive judgments and sentencing recommendations. Results revealed punitive judgments were positively related to both SDO (r = .194, p < .05) and RWA (r = .246, p < .01). Similar findings revealed a significant association between racial bias and SDO (r = -.222, p < .05) and RWA (r = -.132, p < .01), respectively. Surprisingly, length of sentencing recommendations failed to significantly correlate with either SDO (r = -.033, p > .05) or RWA (r = .024, p > .05). These findings support current literature noting multiple factors contributing to racially prejudicial ideas about racial minorities. Thus, interventions to reduce racial bias, and subsequent discrimination, must target various factors. Research suggests that inter-group contact may be beneficial in reducing the saliency of these beliefs (Allport, 1954; Pettigrew, 1998).

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material


Included in

Psychology Commons