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Breeding Contempt: Whites' Reactions to Police Violence against Black Men & Dogs

Thu, August 29, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Marriott, Virginia B


Growing media coverage and conversation around police shootings has occurred in the United States in recent years, but little research in political science has explored reactions to news of police shootings or the implications for feelings towards police organizations. Consequently, this project explores how White people react to stories about police-involved shootings and their subsequent opinions towards police. Using a survey experiment, we expose White participants to a news story involving police officers shooting and killing either a Black man or a dog, followed by various newly developed measures of feelings towards police. We find evidence that the victim is presented—either a Black man or a dog—influences Whites’ perceptions of police brutality, support for spending on crime prevention, views about the criminal justice system, and perceptions of police more broadly.


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