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Journal Article


Sosoo EE, MacCormack JK, Neblett EWJ. Psychophysiology 2022; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2022, Society for Psychophysiological Research, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






Little is known about how vicarious police violence, or instances of police violence observed but not directly experienced, impacts health among Black individuals. Using a lab-based paradigm in a sample of young adults (N = 101), this study examined: (a) psychophysiological reactivity to instances of vicarious police violence, particularly the assault and shooting of Black individuals; (b) affective reactivity to instances of vicarious police violence; and (c) how racial identity, one important moderator, influences psychophysiological and affective responses to vicarious police violence. Using electrocardiography and impedance cardiography, participants' cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic physiological responses were continuously monitored. Three sets of high-quality color photographs (neutral, non-violent distress, violence) were viewed on a computer. Participants rated their affect after each set using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Following this task, racial identity was assessed using the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity-Short Form.

FINDINGS indicated that vicarious police violence was associated with greater sympathetic reactivity and negative affect relative to the neutral and non-violent distress conditions. Additionally, higher levels of racial centrality exacerbated the association between vicarious police violence and negative affect.

FINDINGS suggest that Black individuals may wish to limit their consumption of media depicting the assault and shooting of other Black individuals, with the caveat that the best solution is ultimately the cessation of police violence.

Language: en


racism; police; affect; electrocardiography; racial identity; vicarious


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