--Original published at Loretta Gabrielle
My Article Summary of the Journal:
The researchers of the study, conducted an experiment as to whether or not forensic evidence had bias from criminal stereotypes. The researchers target audience were individuals in the criminal justice system and society as a whole, with main focus on forensic examiners and fingerprinting. The stem from this research originated from a forensic examiner questioning their teams methods when they mistakenly suggested an Muslim man was guilty for a bombing. The reasoning of this wrongful arrest was because Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim man mistakenly charged, fit the FBI’s profile and stereotype of what a terrorist bomber would look like.
So, what is a criminal stereotype? A criminal stereotype relates an individual’s appearances, looks, beliefs, and characteristics with a certain crime. In this example, a criminal stereotype was assuming a Muslim man was the perpetrator of a bombing. This occurs similarly with other crimes matched with certain characteristics. In this experiment, the researchers conducted a trial study which matched different crimes with different characteristics. The participants of the study were college students which generated different assumptions of criminal stereotypes. The purpose of this trial study was to demonstrate how social stereotypes played into role, demonstrating a cause and effect.
This led to the main experiment of the research. The researchers selected 225 undergraduate college students from a large variety of ethnic backgrounds without any known knowledge of criminal justice. The journal overlooked any reasoning for why or how the participants were selected, leaving out critical operationalizing variables. The participants read a mock police report with mock fingerprints of two crimes which were said to be found at the scene of the crime. The research journal left out how they were separated but, half of the participants were matched with an middle-aged Asian woman named Mei Lee, while the other half matched with White middle-aged male named Steve Johnson as the perpetrator. The two crimes in question were child molestation and identity theft, one which was stereotypically matched with distinct characteristics of a perpetrator and another crime which did not match with any specific trait. The participants were told to state whether they thought the individual the database matched at the scene of the crime, was or was not the perpetrator. The findings demonstrated most participants associated child molestation with Steve Johnson, a White middle-aged man as the perpetrator whereas the characteristics of identity theft had little impact when deciding who the perpetrator was. The research demonstrated how social and criminal stereotypes negatively impact and create a disadvantage for individuals who fit these characteristics.
The research journal suggested different ways for forensic examiners evaluation of fingerprinting through a variety of systems. An example provided was a filler method which had a mock criminal stereotype given to a forensic examiner. If the examiner suggested the perpetrator matched the crime, it would determine the examiner as unreliable and in need of improved forensic techniques. The information in the journal can improve the criminal justice system along with society as a whole to help prevent negative biases from criminal stereotypes. This study is able to create awareness to criminal stereotypes in forensic evidence which lead to wrongful arrests.
Review of Summarizing the Journal
Through the process, I understand the perspective and difficulties reporters have when reviewing an experiment. The news article disregarded several factors of the five research questions. In my summary, I prioritized by answering the questions which the news article left out. I was able to address every question other than how the participants were selected since it was missing from the research journal. In completing the article summary I found it easily done after finishing both the pop critique and scholarly review assignments.
In summarizing the research article, there were several different details in the news article which was part of the study but not the overall purpose. For example, the article disregarded details about the participants but capitalized on the journalists personal experiences of social stereotypes. Although this information is useful for the findings in the article, it takes away important details which are vital in the experiment. When deciding the information to take out, personal aspects became eliminated and replaced with the details regarding the five critical questions. The questions I addressed in the summary were operationalized variables, how the groups were assigned, method of causal claims, and targeting the right audience. This differs from the news article as it only addressed the method of casual claims and how the groups were assigned. The additional information I left out were details regarding the accumulation of different fingerprints the criminal database provides. I minimized the statistical factors when creating the article summary as most readers, including myself, would struggle understanding the point and purpose of it. I found the main goal of the study was to demonstrate the reason as to why the researchers were conducting the experiment, the details in the experiment, the findings of the experiment, and what to improve upon which was implemented in my summary.
In comparison to my summary with the news article we both left out how the participants were selected. The article disregarded the operationalized variables which my summary provided regarding the participants in the study. Both my summary and the article discuss the presence of causal claims from the journal along with how participants were assigned. In the article, casual claim were frequently used and demonstrated through the findings of the research. The presence of criminal stereotypes caused a higher likelihood of biases in the criminal justice system, a cause and effect. The summary I provided answered part of the five critical research questions which the article summary did not. In my summary, the details regarding the generalization to the correct population and who the participants in the research were specified while the article summary focused on strictly forensic examiners.
My perspective on journalist has changed after studying and reviewing the pop culture research critique, scholarly article, and the media production assignments. From the pop culture research critique, the majority of the article left out information regarding the five research questions. After reading the article, the assumed participants were forensic examiners rather than college students. The lack of information provided in the article left room for incorrect assumption and mistakes, damaging the validity of the news article. The pop culture research brought attention of the missing information as the article was unable to answer all five of the research questions. The lack of information the news article provided which the pop critiques capitalized on, provided awareness to flaws in other research articles which may have been overlooked. Although I found the article summary untrustworthy, it continues as a reminder of attentiveness in research. The mistakes the journalist made are understandable as some of the information of the five research questions were missing. When writing a journal article, it is difficult for journalists to add any personal opinion in the summary with limited space.
In the scholarly article, it provided the analysis of the research journal and the information the news article lacked. Most of the information found in the research journal added to the missing information from regarding the five research questions which the news article left out. Originally the news article was only able to answer two questions while my summary was able to answer four of them. The scholarly article provided a larger understanding of the difficulties journalist may face when looking at a study. The article picked out the important details of the study while also acknowledging the back story and purpose of the experiment. This assignment differed from the pop culture critique by providing a larger insight to the difficulties journalist face in understanding the content of research journals and deciphering the important and interesting facts readers would understand.
In this media production assignment, it allowed the students to become the news article journalists rather than strictly the critiques. By understanding and picking apart the flaws in the new article and understanding the details from the journal, it allowed me to concentrate on the important facts while creating my summary. After the completion of the summary, the assignment allowed reflection and understanding of the flaws in each component and how to distinguish a valid article summary from an invalid one. In this specific article, I believe the author had a large oversight in most of the information and did not prioritize it as well as they could have. Although the journalist could have been more attentive in incorporating the important details of the study, I understand the difficulties of completing a word limit of a news article with an extremely detailed research journal.
Madon, Stephanie, et al. The Perfect Match: Do Criminal Stereotypes Bias Forensic Evidence Analysis?, vol. 40, no. 4, 2016, pp. 420–429., doi:10.18411/d-2016-154.
“The Perfect Match.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 19 Oct. 2016, http://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-82.aspx.
News Article: http://www.apa.org/pubs/highlights/spotlight/issue-82.aspx
Journal Article: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/lhb-lhb0000190.pdf