SURF

Sabrina Lu

Gender and Perceptions of Criminality

Empirical studies have revealed a wide range of racial and gender disparities in the American criminal justice system. People of color, specifically Black males, make up the majority of our prison population, but incarceration is vastly influenced by historical and societal ills that negatively impact minority groups. Through racial profiling and other forms of explicit and implicit biases, society creates and perpetuates stereotypes of people of color as deviant, dangerous, and criminal.
Gender stereotypes also impact perceptions of criminality. Aggression in males aligns with masculinity and is consistent with the male gender stereotype. However, aggression in females suggests deviation from femininity, which breaks from the female gender stereotype. Implications and effects of these gender differences should be studied through an intersectionality approach, which my project aims to take.
My experiment will manipulate gender (male or female) and type of crime (aggravated or non-aggravated robbery) to study the effects of gender stereotypes on participants perceptions of criminality. I will pursue the following questions: Would a male offender be perceived as more or less criminal than a female offender who committed the same crime under identical circumstances? Would the crimes severity or offenders gender impact perceptions of criminality?

Message to Sponsor

Thank you to SURF and the Wishek Fund for providing me with the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the field of research this past summer. Through SURF, I was able to conduct my first independent research project which will now translate into my senior honors thesis. Through providing funds, guiding me through IRB approval, providing feedback on the project itself, and allowing me to present my work, SURF has vastly supported my research endeavors. I am truly grateful for SURF and the experiences I have had with the organization, and I intend on furthering my passion for research in graduate school.
  • Major: Psychology & Legal Studies
  • Sponsor: Wishek Fund
  • Mentor: Jason Okonofua