This is an informal survey-based study of desire for police and media to take a policy of not including race or gender in their description of the suspect of a crime. Two-hundred-and-one Americans, balanced for gender (50:50 men and women) and party affiliation (50:50 Republican and Democrat, used as a proxy for the broader “Red Tribe” and “Blue Tribe” cultures in the United States that differ in politics, religion, gender roles, geography, urbanization, etc.), indicated their approval level (on a 1–7 scale) of one of the two following policy statements:
- When a crime is committed, police and media should avoid mentioning race in their description of the suspect or wanted person, to avoid fueling stereotypes about race and crime.
- When a crime is committed, police and media should avoid mentioning gender in their description of the suspect or wanted person, to avoid fueling stereotypes about gender and crime.
Results indicate a greater approval rating for the first policy (of not mentioning race) than the second policy (of not mentioning gender).
Note that I do not ask this with the assumption that either the policy of mentioning less or more about the suspect is the right one. Regardless of my or your overall leanings here, I want to raise the question of whether race and gender should be treated differently.
2. Main findings
The average approval rating when asked about gender was 2.5 out of 7, compared to 3.5 out of 7 for race (SDs = 2.0 and 2.4). This is a difference of 1 point, or about half a standard deviation (Cohen’s d = 0.45), and is statistically significant (see section 3).
Democrats had overall higher approval responses across both questions (average of 3.6/7) than Republicans (2.3). There was additionally a trend in the data towards Democrats having a larger disparity between their responses for race and gender, but this was not statistically significant (meaning that this is something that might be worth looking into more in the future, but at this point no concrete conclusions should be drawn).
3. Additional details
The 201 respondents were the same as in the previous survey study comparing attitudes on charging men more for car insurance with attitudes on charging women more for health insurance. Respondents were assigned to the question about race or gender based on identifying whether the last digit in their day of birth was an even number or an odd number, which divided them approximately in half. Respondents also provided their ages, which are reported in the other study. Republicans were a bit older than Democrats.
Statistical analysis was done using a linear regression (lm in R). The response variable was the 1–7 rating of acceptability; the predictor variables were question (i.e., which question was asked: #1 about race or #1 about gender), gender of the respondent (man, woman), and party affiliation of the respondent (Republican or Democrat). The ANOVA table is provided below. The most relevant result is the significant main effect of group (people had higher approval ratings for a policy of not mentioning race than a policy of not mentioning gender).
Analysis of Variance Table Response: crimeresp Df Sum Sq Mean Sq F value Pr(>F) question 1 47.84 47.839 10.9997 0.001089 ** gender 1 1.39 1.394 0.3206 0.571895 party 1 88.71 88.707 20.3965 1.094e-05 *** question:gender 1 0.02 0.016 0.0037 0.951409 question:party 1 7.44 7.437 1.7100 0.192537 gender:party 1 0.07 0.075 0.0172 0.895867 question:gender:party 1 1.15 1.150 0.2644 0.607679 Residuals 193 839.38 4.349 --- Signif. codes: 0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1