The impact of gun prevalence and background race on racial bias in the first person shooter paradigm
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SubjectResearch Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Psychology; Racial bias; Racism; First Person Shooter Task; Anti-Black bias; Bystanders; Gender; Reaction time; Gun prevalence
Laboratory research on the first person shooter task (FPST), requiring participants to make a quick decision whether to shoot at a person who may be carrying a gun, consistently demonstrates a strong bias to shoot at Blacks more than at Whites. In order to enhance external validity, we manipulated the race of the bystander and the probability of the gun. 112 undergraduates were used in the FPST, in which the impact of four variables on Reaction Time and Error Rate were explored: Target Race (Black, White), Gun Prevalence (25%, 50% and 75%), Background Race (Black, White, half Black and half White), Object (Gun, No Gun). Results replicated a classically shown anti-Black bias. Bias was moderated, however, by both the prevalence of the gun and the race of the bystander. When there was no gun present, anti-Black bias was highest when the race of the bystander was all White. When there was a gun present, anti-Black bias was highest when there were any Black bystanders. Independent of background race, as the prevalence of the gun decreased, racial bias generally increased, as indicated by faster hits and fewer misses for Black targets. False alarms, on the other hand, generally decreased with decreased gun prevalence. In general, males made correct decisions faster than females, and the racial bias, limited to the decision to shoot someone holding a gun, hits, was greater for males than for females. These findings show that anti-Black bias in the decision to shoot must be explored under more externally valid circumstances.
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