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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Race discrimination, Shooting-Decision-making, Self-protective behavior, Shooter bias, Race, Implicit bias, Decision to shoot


In a 2 x 2 x 3 experiment patterned after Correll and his colleagues' (2002), participants were randomly divided into three experimental groups and asked to respond to images of Black or White males holding guns or other less threatening items by selecting a response option to shoot, not shoot, or duck. The first group was given the option to shoot or not shoot the targets. The second group was given the same options as the first and an additional option to duck at their own discretion. A final group was given identical options as the second group, but members of this group were initially trained to select duck in response to individuals holding guns during a series of practice trials. I observed a main effect for the response option variable on shooting frequency. Ducking significantly reduced shooting behavior in the condition in which participants were trained to select the duck option. Results also revealed a main effect for the race of target indicating that participants made decisions to shoot and not shoot White targets more quickly than Black targets. An interaction between race and item was also observed indicating that participants correctly chose to not shoot White targets without guns the quickest and were slowest in selecting the don't shoot key in response to Black targets without a gun. Findings suggest that self-protective ducking may reduce dangerous outcomes for police officers, potential targets, and bystanders.




55 p. : illustrations (some color). Honors Project-Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 44-50)