Um...now as Jon Darley...uh... reminds us...uh
when people or jurors are deciding whether to punish someone with death or not
to some extent, they're deciding what an adequate payment is to right
the wrong that has been committed. Okay. So they're deciding on what type of payback
would be just. And this just desserts perspective on punishment
is well represented in the work of the 18th century philosopher
Emmanuel Kant. And he says here
"Punishment should be pronounced over all criminals proportionate to their
internal wickedness". Okay. Proportionate to their internal wickedness.
So in our research, we asked the question: Could physical features that mark race
be a proxy for internal wickedness. And if so, are black defendants who look more
stereotypically black, more likely to be perceived as wicked and punished accordingly.
When we consider real...uh defendants who've been...uh...been
convicted of first degree murder. Who should get life? And who should get death?
Perhaps an overlooked factor in understanding how the
death penalty is decided upon, has to do with this notion
of internal wickedness. Perhaps still today, American citizens look upon a black
face and use the blackness of his physical features as a proxy
for internal wickedness. And perhaps they decide to punish accordingly.
Um...so we address this issue ...um in this next study...uh by using
a large data set of death eligible defendants that was put together
by David Baldus and Colleagues. Um... we were able to locate the photographs of
these defendants in this data set. And we gave these photographs to...uh raters
to have them judge the faces on stereotypicality. Okay. And these participants
had no idea what the study was about, or how we got the faces, or that the faces were actually the
faces of convicted criminals. We just asked them to rate the faces on...uh stereotypicality
and were interested in whether those ratings could then predict whether
the defendant got a life sentence or a death sentence.
Now the data I'm about to show you are for black defendants only. Um...
You can see here that when...uh... black defendants who are convicted of killing
black victims...um...um...you see that there is no
stereotypicality effect. The death sentencing rate is exaclty the same for those
who are low and those who are high in stereotypicality.
However, when you look at black defendants who are convicted of killing white victims, there is a huge stereotypicality.
effect. Okay. So looking more black, more than doubles your chances of receiving a death sentence.
And this effect is significant, even though we controlled for factors like aggravators and
mitigators and the murder severity and the SES of the victim and the defendant and the
attractiveness of the defendant. Um... black defendants are punished
in proportion to the blackness of their physical features.
So. The next question is: why is this the case? Like why does blackness
matter only to the extent that the victims are white.
And at first glance, uh...these results seemed...uh...puzzling...um to us...uh
but it, you know, again it resonates with...uh decades of research.
Demonstrating that...um convicted criminals are much more likely to be sentenced to death
when their victims are white. So perhaps...um the internal wickedness,
of defendants matters most when the victims are most worthy of saving.
So perhaps this result underscores how people value the lives of whites more than they value
the lives of blacks. Um... so in part two of my talk I'm gonna present
studies designed to look at the most extreme form of black devaluation.
And I'm gonna argue that black people are not only viewed as criminal
but as somehow less human...uh than whites.
Now of course, uh, the dehumanization of black Americans...uh
has been a longstanding issue in this country. In 1934
W.E.B. DuBois writes about this issue in the forward...uh to his classic
book Black Reconstruction. And he says here
"It would...uh.. be only fair to the reader to say frankly
in advance, that the attitude of any person toward this story will be distinctly influenced by
his theories of the Negro race. If he believes the Negro in America and
in general is an average and ordinary human being who under given environment develops like
other human beings, then he will read this story and judge it by the facts adduced.
If however, he regards the Negro as a distinctly inferior creation,
who can never successfully take part in modern civilization. And whose emancipation
and enfranchisement were gestures against nature, then he will need something more
than the sort of facts I have set down. But this later person, I am not
trying to convince. I am simply pointing out these two points of view, so [emphasis] obvious [emphasis] to
Americans. And then without further ado, I am assuming the truth of the first. And finally
I am going to tell this story as though Negroes were ordinary human beings.
Realizing that this attitude, will from the first, seriously
curtail my audience."
One of the oldest race battles, that blacks have fought in this country has been
the battle to be recognized as fully human. To be regarded not in
the in between status somewhere between ape and human but to be fully human.
And this is an old battle, that on the surface at least appears to be largely
And this is an old battle, that on the surface on at least appears to be largely forgotten.
And in fact, when we asked Stanford undergraduates, to tell us what social groups is associated with apes,
most had no knowledge that black Americans are associated with Apes.
When we asked what animals are associated with black Americans, again
most had no knowledge of an association between blacks and apes.
And in fact, in no study that I know about do people express explicit
knowledge of a stereotypical association between blacks and apes...um.
Yet in study after study, we're finding that people, still today, make this association
and this association alters how blacks are seen and treated in the modern world.
So we begin to test people's implicit association or implicit knowledge of this association...uh by
using the same, some of the same paradigms that I showed you earlier. So..um
for example in the first study. We demonstrate that the stereotypic association between
blacks and apes...um is strong enough to...uh shape visual attention.
Um...in this particular study, we expose people to faces
just as we've done...um in the other studies...um...so they're again
exposed to these faces subliminally. Either they're exposed to the black faces or the white faces
Um... and then we have participants...perform..uh this..um
um...degraded objects task. And just like in previous studies,
you know they're shown the objects. They're really degraded. They become more clear. But this
time all of the objects are animals. Um..and...um some of the
animals are apes. Like this. Others are non-apes, like alligators and
squirrels and elephants. Okay. And we hypothesized that participants
would be faster...um to detect the apes. When they'd been first exposed
to the black...um faces as compared to the white faces.
Okay so let's look at the results here. Um...so you can see here that
when they're...um...uh judging the non-apes the
race of the face that they've been exposed to beforehand doesn't matter.
Um... but when they're detecting the apes it makes a bit difference. Okay
Simple exposure to the blacks faces beforehand reduces the threshold at
which...uh... people can actually recognize...um these ape images.
So the black faces once again, they're facilitating the detection of the ape images.
Now I have to say. Ah... that these results...ah just stop me, in my
tracks. For the first time in my career I looked at study results...um and I just had to
say "have mercy." [Laughter]
We kept running this study. We repeated it to make sure the effect
was real. Um...and the result was always the same. We tested the association
backwards and forwards and the result was always the same.