Phillip Atiba Goff
Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Goff's research focuses on the possibility that contextual explanations play an under-explored role in producing racial inequality. His research examines ways in which environmental factors can produce racially disparate outcomes. By translating this work into the field—particularly the contexts around policing—his research helps change the public narrative about what we call racism.
Examines intergroup bias via perceived suspect phenotypic racial stereotypicality (e.g. how strongly members possess physical features typical of their racial group) on severity of police use of force. Confirms that police used less force with highly stereotypical Whites, and this protective effect was stronger than the effect for non-Whites. Suggests that intragroup bias is a protective factor for Whites, but not for non-Whites, providing an additional route through which racial disparities in policing operate.
Examines the influence of a procedurally fair organizational climate on officer's organizational behavior, commitment to democratic policing, and well-being. Shows that when officers were in a procedurally fair department, they were more likely to trust and feel obligated to obey their supervisors, less likely to be psychologically and emotionally distressed, and less likely to be cynical and mistrustful about the world in general and the communities they police in particular. Supports the utility of infusing procedural justice into the internal working climate as a means to improve police officer job performance, their well-being, and their relationship with the communities they police.
Examines whether Black boys are given the protections of childhood equally to their peers. Tests 3 hypotheses: (a) that Black boys are seen as less "childlike" than their White peers, (b) that the characteristics associated with childhood will be applied less when thinking specifically about Black boys relative to White boys, and (c) that these trends would be exacerbated in contexts where Black males are dehumanized by associating them (implicitly) with apes. Demonstrates that the Black/ape association predicted actual racial disparities in police violence toward children. Suggests that dehumanization is a uniquely dangerous intergroup attitude, that intergroup perception of children is underexplored, and that both topics should be research priorities.
Investigates the role that stereotype threat plays in producing racial distancing behavior in an anticipated conversation paradigm within four studies. Discusses results within a broader discourse of racial distancing and the possibility that certain identity threats may be as important as prejudice in determining the outcomes of interracial interactions.
Demonstrates that U.S. citizens implicitly associate Blacks and apes. Reveals how this association influences study participants' basic cognitive processes and significantly alters their judgments in criminal justice contexts. Argues that examining the subtle persistence of specific historical representations such as these may not only enhance contemporary research on dehumanization, stereotyping, and implicit processes but also highlight common forms of discrimination that previously have gone unrecognized.
Investigates the influence of stereotypic associations on visual processing in five studies. Suggests that some associations between social groups and concepts are bidirectional and operate as visual tuning devices—producing shifts in perception and attention of a sort likely to influence decision making and behavior.