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Department of Psychology
University of Mississippi

Speaker Series Talk

Title: The Psychology of Racial Bias in Policing

Kimberly Kahn, PhD

Speaker Series: Friday, October 20th at 4-5pm in Peabody 206

Professor of Psychology

Portland State University


Police shootings of unarmed racial minorities prompted psychological research on the effect of race on police behavior in order to both understand and counteract potential bias. In this talk, I will discuss my research on the psychological effects of race and racial stereotyping in policing. I have conducted research with police departments across the country to study this issue, including with the Center for Policing Equity and local departments in Oregon. Using data from experimental, observational, correlational, and archival police case file studies, I detail how subtle forms of stereotyping, implicit bias, and psychological identity-related threats affect decision-making during police-community interactions. Analyses examine both police and community member behavior during interactions, and how both parties can be influenced by subtle biases and psychological identity threats. These biases ultimately lead to an escalation in use of force during these interactions. Using this scientific information, I will discuss evidence-based interventions to reduce racial bias in policing behavior and how to promote more equitable outcomes for all community members.