Implicit racism in children

by Bayleaf42 on Novembre 17, 2016 - 2:14am

In França and Monteiro's (2013) research set out to observe racist or racially-biased behaviours amongst younger and older white children within a group dynamic. In this, we will only be observing the first of two studies in this paper. The hypotheses that the researchers had come up with were that the white children would be more likely to be credited than their black counterparts in general, and that older children are more likely to display egalitarian values than the younger kids when rewarding others where accomplishments were similar. However, they expected both age groups to display bias for white children in a situation where accomplishments and help were skewed. Some discussion is shown concerning the belief that white kids seem, in society, to show more implicit, with some explicit, racial bias against their black peers. Norms in society concerning egalitarianism have an effect in how children develop, and how racial stereotyping or bias occurs. The authors also mention, due to past research, that egalitarian attitudes become more and more explicit as children age, and racism becomes implicit. To continue, attitudes of children toward race change depending on whom is present during a given situation, such as an adult or authority figure. In study one, 82 white children were selected from middle-income elementary schools in Sergipe to participate in the experiment. In a double-blind procedure, children were interviewed and asked to pretend that they had an intention to build something of interest, and would be rewarding other kids for their help. They were shown photos of different coloured children holding bricks of varying quantity. Several different scenarios were explored, in which sometimes children had similar performances (same amounts of bricks), and sometimes they did not. The results of this study showed that in a justified situation, the expected hypothesis was true: Children despite age would reward those who accomplished more than the others, regardless of color, though younger kids were likely to give similar rewards to both “races”. In an unjustified situation, it was found that indeed blacks were rewarded less than the whites were, and as expected, the older children displayed more egalitarian behaviour than the younger ones. In study one, they concluded that white people will attempt to justify racial bias, without racist reasons. Racial bias was present within white children, and the ages of children changed results, as expected. However, young kids showed unexpected behaviour and rewarded blacks more or less equally in a justified contexts, and were biased toward whites in an unjustified one. On the other hand, older children rewarded blacks fairly in the unjustified context but not in the justified one, meaning that their first hypothesis was correct, but the second one needed to be reevaluated due to some unanticipated behaviour from the younger age group.

I believe that this type of study is rather important in understanding where bias comes from, as children. This is only one of several steps needed to observe, and thereafter use to improve situations. As it is discussed in the article, social values of today are of an egalitarian sort: it is expected of people to, or at least try to, treat visible minorities with equal respect as others. Even so, however, children pick up on aversive behaviours based on what they observe in society, as was discussed in the class, and although the intention is often not there, implicit racism is present with age. I believe that we can use this information to change the way children pick up on racial cues, and as such change future generations and their ways of perceiving their peers and authorities. Wishful as it may be, a future without racism is possible. It's just going to take a long time, and some serious work as a whole society. If one can identify their own implicit racist tendencies as well as those of children, measures can be taken to rectify the attitudes, and perhaps repetition will stop it from being a conscious effort, and it will transcend into a natural behaviour.


França, D. X., & Monteiro, M. B. (2013). Social norms and the expression of prejudice: The development of aversive racism in childhood. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 43(4), 263-271. doi:10.1002/ejsp.1965