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Imprisoned Imperceptions: Inaccuracy in Incarceration Demographic Stereotypes
Unformatted Document Text:  Incarceration Beliefs correlation for each participant in our research. An average Pearson r statistic was then calculated. The average of all such correlations was r= .27, with a standard deviation of .39. We performed a frequency analysis of how many participants had correlations under .25, how many fell between .25 and .39, and how many were equal to or over .40. One hundred fifty-three participants (48 percent of our sample) had correlations under .25. Forty-seven participants (14.7%) had correlations that fell between .25 and .39. One hundred nineteen (37.3%) participants had correlations over .40. Twenty-seven participants had missing data and were therefore not included in this analysis. On average, roughly 52% of our participants can best be described as holding individual beliefs that correspond to reality to a moderate or high degree Implied Beliefs about Incarceration Rates The estimates provided by our respondents can be used to construct implicit estimates of incarceration rates across groups in the population. In this paper, we use the term “incarceration rate” to refer to the proportion of people in a population who are in jail or prison. Our survey did not directly ask people to estimate incarceration rates for each of the separate social and demographic groups. Nonetheless, the information that our participants did provide logically dictates an implied perceived incarceration rate. For example, on average, our samples believed that 22.09% of the U.S. population was incarcerated, that 52.17% of the population is female, and that 22.79% of the prison population is female. If all of these things are true, it implies that: Step 1: 22.79% of 22.09% = the proportion of the U.S. population that is incarcerated females = 5.03%. Step 2: 5.03%/52.17% = 9.65% = implied perceived incarceration rate for females (i.e., implicitly, people believe that 9.65% of all the women in the U.S. are in jail; the implied incarceration rate for women is the perceived proportion of the U.S. population that are female prisoners divided by the perceived proportion of the U.S. population that is female). 17

Authors: Ragusa, Laura.
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Incarceration Beliefs
correlation for each participant in our research.  An average Pearson r statistic was then calculated. 
The average of all such correlations was r= .27, with a standard deviation of .39.  
We performed a frequency analysis of how many participants had correlations under .25, how 
many fell between .25 and .39, and how many were equal to or over .40.  One hundred fifty-three 
participants (48 percent of our sample) had correlations under .25. Forty-seven participants (14.7%) 
had correlations that fell between .25 and .39. One hundred nineteen (37.3%) participants had 
correlations over .40. Twenty-seven participants had missing data and were therefore not included in 
this analysis. On average, roughly 52% of our participants can best be described as holding individual 
beliefs that correspond to reality to a moderate or high degree
Implied Beliefs about Incarceration Rates
The estimates provided by our respondents can be used to construct implicit estimates of 
incarceration rates across groups in the population.   In this paper, we use the term “incarceration 
rate” to refer to the proportion of people in a population who are in jail or prison.  Our survey did not 
directly ask people to estimate incarceration rates for each of the separate social and demographic 
groups.  Nonetheless, the information that our participants did provide logically dictates an implied 
perceived incarceration rate.  For example, on average, our samples believed that 22.09% of the U.S. 
population was incarcerated, that 52.17% of the population is female, and that 22.79% of the prison 
population is female. If all of these things are true, it implies that:
Step 1: 22.79% of 22.09% = the proportion of the U.S. population that is incarcerated females 
= 5.03%.
Step 2: 5.03%/52.17% = 9.65% = implied perceived incarceration rate for females (i.e., 
implicitly, people believe that 9.65% of all the women in the U.S. are in jail; the implied 
incarceration rate for women is the perceived proportion of the U.S. population that are female 
prisoners divided by the perceived proportion of the U.S. population that is female).
17


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