Racial bias in adults’ deception judgments of children’s reports
Hagi Hussein, Siham A.
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Few studies have investigated systematic biases in adults’ truth and lie judgments of children’s reports. Research demonstrates that adults tend to exhibit a bias towards believing a child is telling the truth (Talwar et al., 2006), but it is unknown whether this truth bias applies equally to all children. Lloyd and colleagues (2017) discovered that adults demonstrate a racial bias when judging the veracity of the reports made by other adults. However, it is unknown if similar racial biases occur when determining the reports made by children. The current study examined whether adults perceive children to be more or less deceptive based on their race. Using the Prolific data-collection platform, 297 adult participants reviewed fictitious transcripts of a teacher interviewing a child who denies having committed a misbehaviour at school (e.g., damaging a laptop). The race and gender of the child in the transcript were manipulated using a photo of either a Black or White (randomized within-subjects) girl or boy (randomized between-subjects). Participants were asked to rate how deceptive they believed the child was being on a 10-point scale. Participants also completed questionnaires assessing how motivated they are not to appear prejudiced. Results indicate that adults demonstrate a bias in their deception judgements based on the race and gender of the child, and that this bias is dependent on participants’ desire not to appear prejudiced. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.