Understanding and counteracting racial bias in policing

Kimberly Barsamian Kahn

23 Jan 2019, 7:30 pm
238 Smith Memorial Student Union
Portland State University

The lecture is open to the public and admission is free.

Police shootings of unarmed racial minorities prompted psychological research on race in policing in order to both understand and counteract potential bias. In this talk, I will discuss my research on the psychological effects of race and racial stereotyping on police behavior. I have conducted research with police departments across the country to study this issue, including with the Center for Policing Equity and local departments in Oregon. Using data from experimental, observational, correlational, and archival police case file studies, I detail how subtle forms of stereotyping, implicit bias, and identity related threats impact decisionmaking during police-community interactions. Analyses will examine both police and community member behavior during interactions, and how both parties can be influenced by subtle biases and psychological identity threats. These biases ultimately lead to an escalation in use of force during these interactions. Using this scientific information, I will discuss evidence-based interventions to reduce racial bias in policing behavior and how to promote more equitable outcomes for all community members.

Dr. Kimberly Barsamian Kahn is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at Portland State University and leads the Gender, Race, and Sexual Prejudice (GRASP) research lab. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Lisbon University Institute in Portugal. Dr. Kahn’s research addresses contemporary forms of implicit bias and subtle prejudice from both the targets’ and perceivers’ perspectives. She has conducted empirical research and interventions to reduce implicit bias and stereotyping within education systems, work organizations, and police departments. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities.