The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Criminal Justice: M.S.


Criminal Justice


School of Public Affairs

First Advisor

Douglas Lee Gilbertson

Second Advisor

Dick Andzenge

Third Advisor

Joseph Melcher

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

implicit bias, shoot-don’t shoot, fatal shootings, critical incident


This study used a videogame to simulate encounters that law enforcement officers may have with potentially hostile targets. Implicit bias is something that every person carries with him or her. It is unconsciously learned from the societies within which we live, from the overt to the subliminal messages that bombard us daily. This research attempted to determine whether implicit bias real and present, and to what extent can this notion be empirically observed. The literature review covered (1) What does the existing literature say about the nature and extent of implicit bias? (2) What are some examples of implicit bias? (3) Where do we learn, and how do we acquire, implicit bias? This explanatory study sought to determine whether implicit bias may contribute to fatal shooting events. Although not statistically significant, an analysis of the raw numbers of incorrect shots may suggest that participants were more likely to make a mistake (whether Type I or II Error) when the person in the scene was White rather than Black. Popular media would suggest that the unarmed black male would be shot the most, but this study’s sample population has suggested other results.


I would like to give a big thanks to Dr. D. Lee Gilbertson. Without him, this study would have been much harder for me to accomplish. Thank you for your guidance and knowledge; your useful comments, remarks, and engagement through the learning process of this master’s thesis have taught me a lot in my time here at St. Cloud State University and I really appreciated all you did for me on the way. Additionally, my committee members Dr. Andzenge and Dr. Melcher; I appreciate your insight on the topic to help me get this thesis underway. I also would like to thank and acknowledge Kellen G. Olson and Emily R. Mitchell for their help with the handling with participants and collection of the data tools.