Thursday, April 13, 2017
Two studies by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and their collaborators from the United States, Britain, France and China, show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favor of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races
In the first study, “Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music”, results showed that after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music. In the second study, “Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty”, researchers found that six- to eight-month-old infants were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race. “The findings of these studies are significant for many reasons,” said Dr. Kang Lee, professor at OISE’s Jackman Institute of Child Study, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and lead author of the studies. “The results show that race-based bias already exists around the second half of a child’s first year. This challenges the popular view that race-based bias first emerges only during the preschool years.” Researchers say that these findings are also important because they offer a new perspective on the cause of race-based bias. “When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experiences he or she may have had with other-race individuals. But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals,” said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao, first author of the two papers and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.