Aboriginal Canadians in the Courtroom: Effects of Defendant and Eyewitness Race on Juror Decision-Making in a Criminal Trial

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Ewanation, Logan




Negative stereotypes, some concerning alcohol use, about Aboriginal Canadians permeate Canadian society. This study explored whether racial bias affects jurors’ perceptions of Aboriginal Canadian eyewitnesses, particularly when the eyewitness was intoxicated during the crime, as well as the effect of defendant race. Participants read a trial transcript in which eyewitness intoxication and both eyewitness/defendant race (Aboriginal Canadian/White) were manipulated, provided a verdict, and responded to a series of questions about the eyewitness. Although sober witnesses were perceived more favourably than intoxicated witnesses, intoxication had no effect on verdicts. Participants rated Aboriginal eyewitnesses as more accurate than White eyewitnesses, with no differences in credibility or deception. Finally, there was no effect of defendant race on verdicts. Although this study failed to demonstrate a convincing effect of racial bias, further work must be conducted in order to ensure that all citizens are subject to a fair trial by an impartial jury.


Psychology - Social
Psychology - Experimental




Carleton University

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