Babies develop racist traits aged nine months, before coming into contact with other races
Also: Child's Play? 3-Year-Olds Fancy Their Own Ethnic Group: Even in multicultural settings, preschool children may gravitate toward playing with kids of their own ethnicity, a new study finds.
21:04 GMT, 4 May 2012 | Daily Mail | Daily Mail Reporter
White babies aged just nine-months-old show signs of racial bias, according to a study in facial recognition.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found that by the young age the babies were already discriminating against those of different races in their ability to recognise faces and emotional expressions.
They analysed 48 Caucasian babies with little to no experience of African-American or black individuals.
Split into a group of five-months-olds and another of babies aged nine months, they were tasked with differentiating between faces of their people within own race and then of those belonged to another, unfamiliar, race.
Babies from the five-month-old group were far more adept at distinguishing faces from different races, while the nine-month-olds were able to tell apart two faces within their own race with greater ease.
In a second experiment the babies’ brain activity was detected using sensors.
They were shown images of faces of Caucasian or African-American races expressing emotions that either matched or did not match sounds they heard, such as laughing and crying.
Brain-activity measurements showed the nine-month-olds processed emotional expressions among Caucasian faces differently than those of African-American faces, while the 5-month-olds did not.
The shift in recognition ability was not a cultural thing, rather a result of physical development.
Researchers found that the processing of facial emotions moved from the front of the brain to regions in the back of the brain in the older age group.
‘These results suggest that biases in face recognition and perception begin in preverbal infants, well before concepts about race are formed,’ said study leader Lisa Scott in a statement.
‘It is important for us to understand the nature of these biases in order to reduce or eliminate [the biases].'
This is similar to how babies learn language, medicalxpress.com reported. Early in infancy babies do not know yet which sounds are meaningful in their native language, so they treat all sounds similarly.
As they learn the language spoken around them, their ability to tell apart sounds within other languages declines and their ability to differentiate sounds within their native language improves.
The results further earlier research which found that adults have more difficulty recognizing faces that belong to people of another race, indicating that the disparity begins sooner than previously realised.
The report is published in the May issue of the journal Development Science.
» » » » [DailyMail]
Child's Play? 3-Year-Olds Fancy Their Own Ethnic Group
Stephanie Pappas | LiveScience | 29 June 2011 Time: 04:30 PM ET
Even in multicultural settings, preschool children may gravitate toward playing with kids of their own ethnicity, a new study finds.
But when kids do engage with playmates of another ethnicity, they show signs of adjusting their play style to match their partner's, researchers reported in June in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Even very young children are influenced by the culture around them, the scientists wrote, and studies in the 1980s and 90s found that, when given the choice, children of the same ethnicity preferred to play with one another rather than with kids from different ethnic groups. Unless a child has the rare genetic disorder Williams syndrome, these preferences emerge by age 3 or so. The new study of French-Canadian and Asian-Canadian 3- to 5-year-olds finds similar results.
All of the children went to daycare programs in suburban Montreal. In the course of two separate visits, researchers took videos of play sessions between pairs of children of the same age and gender. In some cases, both children were the same ethnicity, and in others, an Asian-Canadian and a French-Canadian child played together. A total of 60 children, 30 from each ethnicity, participated in the study. Each pair had known each other (from attending the same daycare) for at least three months.
The researchers gave the kids a few minutes of free play with toys of their choice before introducing a cooperative toy in which kids could roll marbles down colorful, twisting tracks. Finally, each kid was given a small play-house, one from Fischer Price and another with a Sesame Street theme that they could share with the other child or play with alone. Throughout the session, the researchers monitored how long the children interacted with one another and what sort of interactions they had.
As it turned out, the kids interacted with one another for longer stints when in the same-ethnicity pairs than when playing with a child of another ethnicity. Same-ethnicity partners spent about 58 percent of their time playing together during their session, compared with 44 percent in mixed-ethnicity pairs.
In those single-ethnic pairs, French-Canadian children spoke to one another about four times more than Asian-Canadian children spoke to one another, possibly reflecting a cultural difference between the two groups, the researchers wrote.
"Consistent with some past research, self-expression and social initiation are highly valued in Canadian culture, [while] self-restraint and cooperation may be more important in Chinese and Asian-Canadian culture and this has an impact on multicultural peer interactions," study researcher Dale Stack, a psychologist at Concordia University in Montreal, said in a statement.
When playing with one another, however, the Asian-Canadian and French-Canadian kids adjusted their speech patterns, with the ethnically Asian children speaking more and the ethnically Caucasian children speaking less.
The findings aren't the first to demonstrate how deeply children absorb cultural mores. Earlier studies have found that by age 4, children develop anti-fat attitudes. Mirroring the rise in cursing among adults, kids now also begin to parrot swear words by age 3.
» » » » [Live Science]