Media portrayals of racial and ethnic minority victims of police violence have generated conversations about how invoking racial stereotypes affect public opinions about the victims’ deaths and criminal proceedings for their killers. However, few studies have empirically investigated how the media coverage and details released about a victim shape public discourse surrounding such incidents, the question that this paper aims to answer.
Participants read about an altercation that resulted in a shooting death where the race of the victim and shooter (Black vs. White) was randomly assigned. Participants learned information that was either negative (stereotypic) or positive (and counterstereotypic) about the victim.
Findings suggest that the type of information released about a victim can significantly sway attitudes toward the victim and the shooter.