The Effect of Counterexemplars and Victim Expectations on Crime Perceptions and Hostile Attitudes Toward Racial Minorities

T. Franklin Waddell


Heavy consumers of crime news are more likely to hold negative attitudes and stereotyped expectations of racial minorities. Attempts to reduce stereotyping with counterexemplars that portray racial minorities in a positive light have yielded mixed results. Do prior crime expectations or frequency of crime news exposure moderate the efficacy of counter-exemplar interventions? An experiment (N = 240) was conducted to test this question using a 2 (exemplar typicality: atypical victim vs. no victim control) × 2 (victim expectations: White vs. Black) between-subjects design. Results revealed that counterexemplars that conflicted with viewers’ preexisting victim expectations decreased hostile attitudes among light consumers of crime news, but increased racial stereotyping among heavy news consumers. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings for media psychology are discussed.


racial stereotyping, media effects, intervention, counter-exemplar, construct accessibility

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