Is your own team against you? Implicit bias and interpersonal regard in criminal defense

Joseph J. Avery, Jordan Starck, Yiqiao Zhong, Jonathan D. Avery, Joel Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Racial disparities in conviction and incarceration have been lamentable features of legal systems for a long time. Research has addressed the attitudes and decisions of police, prosecutors, jurors, and judges in contributing to these disparities, but very little attention has been paid to defendants’ own team members—i.e., criminal defense attorneys. Researchers have specifically identified this as a “scholarly gap”. To address this, we conducted an empirical study of criminal defense attorneys practicing in forty-three U.S. states (N = 327). The attorneys completed both an implicit measure designed to capture racial bias (a race Implicit Association Test) and an explicit measure designed to capture interpersonal regard for clients. The results provided support for longstanding, but previously speculative, assertions of bias in criminal defense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-559
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


  • criminal defense
  • implicit bias
  • legal decision making
  • racial bias


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