Racial Stereotyping and Child Development (Contributions to Human Development)

By the time children start elementary school, gender and race shape their lives in many ways that parents might want to prevent. By age six, girls are less likely than boys to choose activities that seem to require them to be really smart , which could contribute to the development of long-term gender differences in science and math achievement.

Why do stereotypes develop in such young children? But our research has found that, to the developing mind, even these positive statements can have negative consequences. For young children, how we speak is often more important than what we say. In our research, published in Child Development , we found that hearing generalizations led children as young as two years old to assume that groups mark stable and important differences between individual people.

In this study, children were introduced to a new, made-up way of categorizing people: But if they heard the same information as a generalization e. Hearing generalizations led children to think that being a member of the group determined what the members would be like. In another recent study , we found that hearing these types of generalizations — even if none of them was negative — led five-year-old children to share fewer resources in this case, colorful stickers with members outside their own social group. These findings show that hearing generalizations, even positive or neutral ones, contributes to the tendency to view the world through the lens of social stereotypes.

It is the form of the sentence, not exactly what it says, that matters to young children. But the child can still learn something problematic — that Muslims, whoever they are, are a distinct kind of person. That it is possible to make assumptions about what someone is like just by knowing if they are Muslim or not. Children completed measures assessing race salience, race essentialism, and in-group and out-group stereotyping.

  • Race Essentialism and Social Contextual Differences in Children’s Racial Stereotyping;
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Results indicated that the type of racial stereotypes emerging with age was context dependent. In both contexts in-group stereotyping increased with age.

The problem of generalization

By contrast, there was only an age-related increase in out-group stereotyping in Massachusetts. Older children in Massachusetts reported more essentialist thinking i. These results provide insight into the factors that may shape contextual differences in racial stereotyping. Historical, cultural, and interpersonal contexts shape the way people think, and also should shape shared knowledge, such as stereotypes.

Research exploring sociocultural influences on racial stereotyping and attitudes in children has largely concentrated on the role of parents, school, or the media e. Numerous factors contribute to the emergence of racial stereotyping in children, but here we concentrate on two social-cognitive components: Thus, the salience of race for children is likely guided by their environmental contexts where frequency of explicit labeling and implicit use of race vary. For example, the frequent use of race during daily interactions e. While race may not often be explicitly labeled in Massachusetts due to prevalent colorblind social norms e.

The extent to which children stereotype out-groups may depend not only on the extent to which race is salient, but also their conceptualizations about the meaning of race. One such lay theory is essentialist thinking about race—the belief that racial group membership is fixed and reflects an underlying essence shared by like individuals Gelman, Individuals who hold essentialist beliefs view a category as more meaningful, predictive, and indicative of fundamental differences. This view then provides an interpretive framework for all other behaviors and attributes associated with the category.

Research suggests that people who essentialize race view race as a more meaningful social category: Essentialist thinking has been shown to play a specific role in stereotyping, particularly out-group stereotyping for children and adults e. Because of the focus on judgments about others, combined with its hypothesized role in maintaining the social hierarchy e. Supporting this, Pauker and colleagues found that in a sample of primarily White children, beliefs about the immutability of race predicted increased out-group but not in-group stereotyping.

Seminal research conducted by Hirschfeld suggests that children have a biologically grounded, adult-like theory of race as early as preschool, around 4-years of age. However, recent research has found the emergence of race essentialism varies with the task e.

Race Salience and Essentialist Thinking in Racial Stereotype Development

Tasks that incorporate explanations of responses or counter-suggestions find race essentialism emerges later in development after 6-years of age; Gaither et al. In contrast, more homogeneous contexts like Massachusetts may encourage children to perceive racial categories as more distinct and rigid with age, which should result in more out-group stereotyping. The present investigation had two primary aims.

Second, we explored whether each context may foster different patterns of racial cognition across development that may explain potential geographic differences in racial stereotyping. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relation between race essentialism and differences in racial stereotyping in two distinct social contexts. This created a multiethnic society where intergroup interaction was highly prevalent and contributed to the current demographic situation where there is not a clear racial or ethnic group in the numerical majority.

Age and Race Differences in Racial Stereotype Awareness and Endorsement

The next largest group is Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders As a comparison, in Massachusetts Whites make up the majority Bureau of the Census, Second, children may be exposed to different sets of racial stereotypes based on the different predominant minority groups across social contexts. Racial and ethnic minority children tend to show weaker in-group preferences e. This asymmetry in racial bias i. For example, in Massachusetts White majority children who are the high-status group are more aware of out-group relevant stereotypes with age i.

Specifically, unlike other studies that have examined the interaction of status and numerical minority or majority status e. Since children start to demonstrate ethnic and racial awareness as young as 3 or 4 years of age e. Our main interest was comparing the differential emergence of in-group and out-group racial stereotyping across the two social contexts.

Since stereotypes are thought to be acquired, at least in part through social learning Allport, ; Cameron et al. Thus, we expected age to be positively related to in-group stereotyping and out-group stereotyping, but that social context would moderate the relation between age and out-group stereotyping. For race essentialism, we utilized a task that measured the perceived inalterability of race over time. Thus, we expected the effect of age on race essentialism to interact with social context, and that these contextual differences in essentialism with age would mediate the effect of context on out-group stereotyping.

Children from Massachusetts were recruited from four suburban public elementary schools that serve middle and upper-middle income families outside Boston, Massachusetts and from the local community through mail solicitations to parents from August to May The schools and neighborhoods of these children were all racially homogenous with a majority White population. The children from Massachusetts were part of larger published dataset Pauker et al. Participants from Massachusetts were mostly White Parents were informed of the study via letters sent home by school administrators, or by phone or in person for those children recruited from the community.

Upon receipt of parental consent, children who provided verbal assent participated individually in a quiet location. The three tasks in this study were presented in the same order for all participants: This fixed order was chosen for two reasons. First, the race essentialism task was presented after the administration of the racial stereotyping and salience tasks because it relied more on overt racial categorization. Second, the racial stereotyping task was presented before the salience task because it did not involve explicitly labeling race either by the experimenter or the participant.

Thus, in order to reduce the contamination of the primary dependent measure, the racial stereotyping task always came first. The photos used in all the tasks described below i. Photo pairs were matched in perceived attractiveness, age, emotionality, and pre-testing confirmed they were perceived as the intended racial group. Photos selected to depict Asian targets were individuals from East Asian e.

We used the stereotyping task developed in Pauker et al. Forty-eight photos of male children were arranged into 24 pairs that were presented with 24 brief behavioral episodes. Nine episodes three per racial group described behaviors that typify prevalent negative stereotypes about three racial groups: Nine episodes described positive stereotypes about the three racial groups: Six episodes were non-stereotypical fillers that described race-neutral behaviors e.

In each trial, participants were presented with a pair of photos and an episode that was narrated by the experimenter, and asked to select the child that was more likely to demonstrate the target behavior. In a stereotypical episode, a photo of a child from the racial group targeted by the stereotype was presented alongside a randomly selected photo from one of the other two racial groups see Pauker et al. The race of the children depicted in the photo pairs was never explicitly labeled.

Children simply picked which child best matched the narrated episode. Neutral episodes included pairs of photos of two children of the same race to minimize the salience of race in the task. Younger children 4-year-olds heard a subset of the stereotypical episodes two positive and two negative episodes for each racial group , in order to increase the likelihood that their concentration would last through the whole task. Responses were coded as stereotypical if a participant selected the child belonging to the racial group targeted by the stereotypical episode.

By averaging scores across episodes for each racial group, we created two composite scores to reflect in-group and out-group stereotyping where scores ranged from 0 no stereotypical response for any in-group or out-group episode to 1 stereotypical response for every in-group or out-group episode.

From groups to individuals

For example, if a participant was White, out-group stereotyping was comprised of Asian and Black episodes and in-group stereotyping was comprised of White episodes. For multiracial children, in-group was coded as any episodes that corresponded to any of their backgrounds e. Using procedures reported in Pauker et al.

The photos also differed non-systematically by other dimensions e. The experimenter then asked the participant to sort again, using a different dimension. Read more Read less. Applicable only on ATM card, debit card or credit card orders. Cashback will be credited as Amazon Pay balance within 10 days. Valid only on your first 2 online payments. Cashback will be credited as Amazon Pay balance within 10 days from purchase.

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Gender stereotypes and education

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