Black Kids Form Identity Through Race; Opposite for White Children

Trice Edney, Florida Courier, January 5, 2012

Black children in the same age group tend to form their identity more strongly by the color of their skin than a shared language, according to a new study, while the opposite was true for White children.

A study published in the November issue of Developmental Science and conducted by University of Chicago researchers Katherine Kinzler and Jacelyn Dautel presented some preliminary findings regarding how young children identify with others.

According to a report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the study cites four experiments, each designed to provide a specific piece of information and control for some variables. Experiments 1, 2 and 4 used children ages 5 to 6, while experiment 3 used children ages 9 to 10.

Language vs. race

Experiments 1, 2, and 3 used White children and experiment 4 used Black children. In all the experiments, the children were shown a child and adults and asked, “Which adult does this child grow up to be?”

In experiments 1 and 2, the children picked the adult that spoke the same language as the child in the test, though it was not a racial match. In experiments 3 and 4, the children picked the adult that was a racial match, though they were not a language match to the child in the test.

“The difference between European American and African American children of the same age highlights the potential role of experience in facilitating children’s reasoning about the stability of different social categories,” the researchers wrote.

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