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Imprisoned Imperceptions: Inaccuracy in Incarceration Demographic Stereotypes
Unformatted Document Text:  Incarceration Beliefs Abstract This research examined the accuracy of peoples’ beliefs about the demographic characteristics of individuals incarcerated in the United States. Three stereotyping hypotheses were tested: system justification, ingroup bias and the exaggeration hypothesis. In addition, several different conceptualizations of accuracy (e.g., discrepancy from reality, correspondence with reality) were employed to assess the degree of (in)accuracy in peoples’ beliefs about the demographic characteristics of the incarcerated population. Results provided strong support for system justification, and indicated that peoples’ beliefs about the demographics of incarceration were a mix of accurate and inaccurate. Furthermore, students in criminal justice university classes were not much more accurate than non-experts. These results indicate that stereotypes about the demographics of incarceration are a mix of accurate, biased, and inaccurate. 2

Authors: Ragusa, Laura.
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Incarceration Beliefs
Abstract
This research examined the accuracy of peoples’ beliefs about the demographic characteristics of 
individuals incarcerated in the United States. Three stereotyping hypotheses were tested: system 
justification, ingroup bias and the exaggeration hypothesis.  In addition, several different 
conceptualizations of accuracy (e.g., discrepancy from reality, correspondence with reality) were 
employed to assess the degree of (in)accuracy in peoples’ beliefs about the demographic 
characteristics of the incarcerated population. Results provided strong support for system 
justification, and indicated that peoples’ beliefs about the demographics of incarceration 
were a mix of accurate and inaccurate.  Furthermore, students in criminal justice university classes 
were not much more accurate than non-experts. These results indicate that stereotypes about the 
demographics of incarceration are a mix of accurate, biased, and inaccurate. 
2


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