Sidney Murray (2nd year Experimental Grad student), Micalee Segers (1st year Experimental Grad student), and Jontae McRae (Senior Psychology Major) traveled to the campus of ETSU to present their research, Race, Drug Suspicion and the American Pit Bull Terrier: New Perspectives on Race-crime Congruency at the 42nd Meeting of the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists (SSSP). The study examined whether the owner of a dog (Pit Bull Terrier vs. a Labrador Retriever) involved in a bite incident would be judged as more to blame for the event depending on his race and former suspected criminal behavior.
The project is designed to examine the interaction of urban stereotypes that might feed a phenomenon called Race-crime Congruency. This is the perception that certain crimes are more likely to occur among members of particular racial groups. When making attributional judgments about such incidents, perceivers place more blame on perpetrators whose crimes are congruent with their beliefs rather than incongruent. American Pit Bull Terriers are a type of dog that are the subject of breed-specific legislation due to media-hyped beliefs that they are inherently dangerous, aggressive dogs. Very little empirical research has examined the correlation between such stereotypes and assumptions that these dogs are owned by poor, urban owners -- factors connected to race-crime congruency. The group debuted a new style of poster (thanks to Dr. Chris Holden for this suggestion) that involves the generation of a QR code that audiences can use to access additional information about the project. The poster style was popular among those present at the conference.