Shooter biases and stereotypes among police and civilians

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The present research assesses potential correlates of discriminatory police behavior, comparing police and civilian participants in a first person shooter task (FPST) as well as on various self-report measures of intergroup contact, intergroup attitudes, and ideological beliefs in three preregistered studies. Study 1 (N = 330), using a FPST with a short response window (630 ms), did not observe shooter biases in reaction times, error rates and signal detection parameters in neither police nor civilian participants. Study 2a (N = 290), using a longer response window (850 ms), observed a shooter bias in reaction times, error rates, and response criterion in both civilian and police participants. These shooter biases were largely driven by faster reactions, fewer errors, and more liberal shoot decisions for armed Arab (vs. White) targets. Study 2b (N = 191; 850 ms response window) closely replicated shooter biases in reaction times, error rates, and response criterion in a sample of civilian online participants. Across studies, we observed similar results in the shooter task for police and civilian samples. Furthermore, both police and civilian participants expressed anti-Muslim and anti-Arab attitudes across a variety of self-report measures. However, compared to civilians, police participants reported higher levels of anti-Muslim attitudes on some measures as well as higher levels of social dominance orientation, which might pose additional risk factors for discriminatory behavior. Lastly, while we observed reliable individual differences in self-reported intergroup attitudes, ideologies, and intergroup contact, none of these characteristics correlated with shooter biases.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103820
JournalActa Psychologica
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2023

Bibliographical note

This publication was funded by the Open Access Publication Fund of Leuphana University Lüneburg.

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