Psychological Perspectives on Justice and Inequality

Racially Biased Policing: Causes, Consequences, and Considerations


Jack Glaser
Professor and Associate Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley

April 20, 2017
3:30 to 5:00 pm

Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union

map, parking and directions

Free and open to the public

Jack Glaser is a Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. A social psychologist whose primary research interest is in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination, he studies these intergroup biases at multiple levels of analysis using multiple methodologies. For example, he investigates the unconscious operation of stereotypes and prejudice, and is investigating the implications of such subtle forms of bias for law enforcement. Professor Glaser is working with the Center for Policing Equity to develop a “National Justice Database” of police stops and use of force incidents. His book, “Suspect Race: Causes and Consequences of Racial Profiling,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.


Psychological science overwhelmingly demonstrates that Americans, including police officers, implicitly associate Black people with weapons, crime, and aggression. Even police officers who embrace egalitarian values, when exhorted to make large numbers of pedestrian or traffic stops, are likely to make decisions that are biased by these stereotypes. Additionally, straightforward mathematical simulations demonstrate that the influence of race in determinations of suspicion will create or exaggerate criminal justice disparities. Arguments that aggressive policing strategies like stop & frisk deter crime need to contend with potential unintended consequences, like reverse deterrence and alienation. Analyses of policing data indicate that racially discriminatory outcomes are greatest under high discretion, and that reductions in discretion effectively mitigate discrimination without increasing crime.

Suggested Readings

Glaser, J., Spencer, K., & Charbonneau, A. (2014). Racial bias and public policy. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(1), 88-94. DOI: 10.1177/2372732214550403

Distinguished Lecture Series Contact:
Jacqueline Chenault, Department of Psychological Science