Racial Essentialism is Associated With Prejudice Towards Blacks in 5- and 6-Year-Old White Children


Psychological essentialism is a cognitive bias that leads people to view members of a category as sharing a deep, underlying, inherent nature that causes them to be fundamentally similar to one another in non-obvious ways. Although essentialist beliefs can be beneficial, allowing people to view the social world as stable and predictable, essentialist beliefs about social categories such as race or ethnicity are also thought to underlie the development of stereotyping and prejudice. While recent studies in adults have found that racial essentialism is associated with increased prejudice, the development of this relationship has rarely been examined. The present research examines the implications of essentialism for prejudice in a population of white five- and six-year old children in the United States, finding that essentialist beliefs about race are associated with increased implicit and explicit prejudice towards members of a minority racial group.

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