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Pick the Stereotype

Today I found this website, picktheperp.com, where you are shown a crime, then a bunch of mug shots, and asked to match the correct mug shot to the crime. Essentially, they’re asking you to match appearances with crimes, and it brings up a whole host of issues about generalizations, criminals, and the supposed idea of “innocent-until-guilty.”

I played the game myself, and I found myself looking at the pictures, making judgments, and thinking thoughts I’d rather not acknowledge. I mean, showing lists of crimes and then saying, “Here, judge these by appearance!” I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I gravitated toward stereotypical answers, and then forced  When the question came up, “Which one has been charged with assault with a firearm?” I had to struggle not to pick the angry-looking black guy… but he looked so angry! I picked someone else instead, but it turned out to be him all along. Dammit!

Or the question, “Which person was charged with never having a drivers’ license?” I thought more about this one–the question wasn’t “expired license,” but “never having one.” Everyone in the pictures looked too old to never have had a license, except the youngest person who also was the only Hispanic. Stereotype! Oh no! This is how it went mostly, and I got every question wrong because I refused to pick the person that “looked” like they matched the crime. It was like I had a block against it.

What’s the point of this? Is it to show us how we make instant judgments? To force us to confront stereotypes? Are the pictures randomly generated, or are they pre-determined lineups? Hm.

The only question I got right was the one where I stuck to my instinct: “Which person was charged with exposing himself?” No matter race, status, or anything else, dirty old men are instantly recognizable!

pick perp

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