Reactions to the O. J. Simpson verdict: "Mindless tribalism" or motivated inference processes?

Leonard S. Newman, Kimberley Duff, Nicole Schnopp-Wyatt, Bradley Brock, Yonit Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The difference in opinion between White Americans and Black Americans as to whether O. J. Simpson is guilty of murder can be understood within the context of the literature on motivated inference. Both self-serving and group-serving motives can lead to bias in how people gather, interpret, and integrate evidence. The current study revealed that the relative salience of race and gender in women's self-concepts (measured by the Twenty Statements Test) was associated with different beliefs about Simpson's innocence or guilt. Although Black women were more likely than White women to believe that Simpson was not guilty, this was more true for Black women who spontaneously self-identified in terms of race. Similarly, when gender was an accessible aspect of identity, women were more likely to believe that Simpson was guilty. High need for cognition (i.e., the tendency to engage in effortful cognitive activity) actually magnified some of these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-562
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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