Black men viewed as larger, more dangerous than white men of same size
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White people view young black men as taller, heavier, stronger and more dangerous than young white men of the same size, according to a new psychology study.
Research published by the American Psychological Association Monday showed that participants also believed police were more justified in using force against black faces than white faces.
Scientists led by Montclair State University’s John Paul Wilson said that the results showed possible “disturbing consequences” for how police interact with black men and boys.
Participants in the study looked at photos of young black and white athletes, 16 to 19, who were quarterbacks on recruiting website Rivals.com and had roughly the same average size.
They also estimated strength for photos white and black football players who measured their bench press at the 2015 NFL Combine, and computer modified images of different races’ heads on the same body.
In all the studies, non-black participants consistently judged black people in the photos to be larger, stronger and more likely to cause harm.
Faces with more “Afrocentric” features such as wider noses and fuller lips were more likely to lead to inflated perceptions of size and danger.
Black participants also viewed the black athletes as more muscular, which researchers said stemmed from a stereotype that has affected all of American culture.
However, the black study participants perception of size did not lead to them thinking of the black athletes as more dangerous.
While he acknowledged that his tests are not a replication of what could happen in the real world, Wilson said that officers perceptions of black men’s size could lead them to see them as more threatening and open fire.
One anecdote cited in the study is Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill Wisconsin man shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014.
Officer Christopher Manney described the 31-year-old as of “muscular build” and likely to overpower him, though Hamilton was only 5’7”, 169 lbs.