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Imprisoned Imperceptions: Inaccuracy in Incarceration Demographic Stereotypes
Unformatted Document Text:  Incarceration Beliefs A parallel set of analyses were performed on people's beliefs about the demographics of the U.S. population, in order to have a comparison with the beliefs about prison demographics. These results constitute a baseline against which we can assess the accuracy of incarceration demographics beliefs. It allows us to determine whether the inaccuracies in people’s beliefs about the demographics of incarceration result from generally flawed beliefs about demographics, or whether there is something unique about beliefs regarding the demographics of incarceration. These results showed that people are far more accurate in their beliefs about the demographics of the U.S. population than about the demographics of incarceration. First, we compared the absolute discrepancies with a series of paired t-tests. These analyses showed that absolute discrepancies were more smaller for the US population than for the prison population for females, t(335)= 12.88, p<.001, high school graduates, t(339)= 10.11, p<.001, the mentally ill, t(332)= 3.70, p<.001, Blacks, t(340)= 2.31, p<.05, and Latinos, t(341)= 3.94, p<.001. Only for estimates of Whites was this trend reversed: participants more accurately estimated (had a smaller discrepancy for) the proportion of the Whites in the prison population than the U.S. population, t(340)= 3.81, p<.001. Second, the consensual stereotype correlation was .98, far greater than the correlation for incarcerated beliefs (r= .55). Third, most individual-level discrepancies were accurate or near misses; only a minority were inaccurate (see Table 6). Fourth, the individual stereotype accuracy correlation was greater for the U.S. population than for the prison population, t(316)= 24.43, p<.001, M’s= .81 and .27, respectively. Furthermore, based on these individual-level correlations, over 95% of participants could be classified as having moderately to highly accurate perceptions of U.S. population demographics, far exceeded the corresponding value of 52% for the prison population demographic estimates. 20

Authors: Ragusa, Laura.
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Incarceration Beliefs
A parallel set of analyses were performed on people's beliefs about the demographics of the 
U.S. population, in order to have a comparison with the beliefs about prison demographics. These 
results constitute a baseline against which we can assess the accuracy of incarceration demographics 
beliefs.  It allows us to determine whether the inaccuracies in people’s beliefs about the 
demographics of incarceration result from generally flawed beliefs about demographics, or whether 
there is something unique about beliefs regarding the demographics of incarceration. 
These results showed that people are far more accurate in their beliefs about the demographics 
of the U.S. population than about the demographics of incarceration. 
First, we compared the absolute discrepancies with a series of paired t-tests. These analyses 
showed that absolute discrepancies were more smaller for the US population than for the prison 
population for females, t(335)= 12.88, p<.001, high school graduates, t(339)= 10.11, p<.001, the 
mentally ill, t(332)= 3.70, p<.001, Blacks, t(340)= 2.31, p<.05, and Latinos, t(341)= 3.94, p<.001. 
Only for estimates of Whites was this trend reversed: participants more accurately estimated (had a 
smaller discrepancy for) the proportion of the Whites in the prison population than the U.S. 
population, t(340)= 3.81, p<.001. 
Second, the consensual stereotype correlation was .98, far greater than the correlation for 
incarcerated beliefs (r= .55). Third, most individual-level discrepancies were accurate or near misses; 
only a minority were inaccurate (see Table 6). Fourth, the individual stereotype accuracy correlation 
was greater for the U.S. population than for the prison population, t(316)= 24.43, p<.001, M’s= .81 
and .27, respectively. Furthermore, based on these individual-level correlations, over 95% of 
participants could be classified as having moderately to highly accurate perceptions of U.S. 
population demographics, far exceeded the corresponding value of 52% for the prison population 
demographic estimates.
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