When It Comes to Police Brutality, Seeing Isn’t Always Believing


“[People will] put that label of aggression on a Black man that we wouldn’t put on a white man simply because the behavior [of a white man] doesn’t signal to the unconscious bias in our brain that this is aggression,” she added. “So the stereotypes that Black men are subject to in society definitely affect individual decision-making among police officers.”

As many have rightly pointed out, this discrepancy in interpretations of behavior is the result of what psychologists call implicit biases. As noted by social psychologist Anthony G. Greenwald and law professor Linda Hamilton Krieger, these “are discriminatory biases based on implicit attitudes or implicit stereotype” and they pose “a challenge to legal theory and practice, because discrimination doctrine is premised on the assumption that, barring insanity or mental incompetence, human actors are guided by their avowed (explicit) beliefs, attitudes, and intentions.”

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