Explaining Police Bias

Michael R. Smith, Geoffrey P. Alpert
2007 Criminal Justice and Behavior  
Although recent empirical research has shown that Blacks and Hispanics are consistently overrepresented among police stops, searches, and arrests, few criminologists have attempted to provide a theoretical explanation for the disparities reported in the research literature. This article proposes a theory of individual police behavior that is grounded in socialpsychological research on stereotype formation and that assumes a nonmotivational but biased response to minority citizens by the police.
more » ... Accordingly, stereotype formation and its consequences are largely unintentional and are driven by social conditioning and the illusory correlation phenomenon, which results in the overestimation of negative behaviors associated with minority group members. After specifying the theory, the article presents a research agenda for empirically testing and verifying its propositions.
doi:10.1177/0093854807304484 fatcat:jq2angv72nb5fiobomegypbxgq