Research Spotlight: Children’s Early Ideas about Race

One of our researchers has had a few news articles posted about his latest research.

His work often looks at how children perceive, understand, and develop ideas about race. In this study, what children thought about race over time was tested. Children were shown a picture of a child and two pictures of adults and were asked “When this child grows up, which grown-up will it be?”. Children ages 4 to 6 were just as likely to choose an adult with the same emotion (an unstable characteristic) as an adult of the same race (a stable characteristic). This shows that many young children do not have strong ideas about race and may not see it as constant over time. The same is not true for older children, adults, or minority children ages 4 to 6. These differences not only show developmental differences, but also how different social experiences lead to an earlier grasp on race as a stable characteristic.