Influence of the race and character of the defendant and victim: a simulated jury study

The present study does not find support for a defensive attribution model which includes a race manipulation. It was hypothesized that within situations of highest relevance to the white subjects the following would happen: (1) If the defendant is white and attractive while the victim is black and unattractive a very light prison sentence will result; and (2) if the defendant is black and unattractive while the victim is white and attractive, a very stiff prison sentence will result. 112 undergraduates enrolled in introductory Sociology courses at California State University at Northridge served as subjects. In a 2x2x2x2 factorial design subjects were randomly assigned to one combination of the following treatment conditions: (1) attractive or unattractive victim; (2) attractive or unattractive defendant; (3) black or white victim; and (4) black or white defendant. The results of the study did not replicate Landy and Aronson (1969) or Shaw (1972) and casts some doubt on the generality of their findings when a race manipulation is included.