Two studies examined verdict differences in criminal trials involving White, Black, and Aboriginal Canadian defendants. We also tested whether making race a salient issue would help participants self-monitor their biases. In Study 1, which used a subtle manipulation of race salience within the victim's testimony, there was a relationship between this manipulation and viewing race as a key feature of the trial. There were no verdict differences as a function of defendant race or race salience. However, participants' self-reported beliefs that racial issues featured prominently in the trial were associated with leniency. In Study 2 (in which the defense attorney argued that racial issues were relevant), this association disappeared. Instead, in the race-salient condition, participants were more likely to perceive that racial issues featured for a Black defendant as compared with an Aboriginal Canadian defendant. The Black and Aboriginal Canadian defendants received more guilty verdicts than the White defendant. Contrary to findings regarding Black defendants in the American literature, experimental race salience did not eliminate this bias. However, again perceived race salience was associated with greater leniency, regardless of defendant race. These findings may aid scholars in discussing the applicability of racesalience theory outside of the American context and the Black-White dichotomy.

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Keywords Defendant race, Juror decision making, Race salience
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Journal Psychology, Public Policy, and Law
Maeder, E.M, Yamamoto, S. (Susan), & McManus, L.A. (Laura A.). (2015). Race salience in Canada: Testing multiple Manipulations and target races. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 21(4), 442–451. doi:10.1037/law0000057