“Infants Show Racial Bias toward Members of Own Race and against Those of Other Races – Researchers report infants show racial bias in favor of members of their own race as early as 6 months old.
“Implicit racial biases tend to be subconscious, pernicious, and insidious. It permeates almost all of our social interactions, from health care to commerce, employment, politics, and dating. Because of that, it’s very important to study where these kinds of biases come from and use that information to try and prevent racial biases from developing,”
Two studies …show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour 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”,…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”, …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.
(In both studies, infants less than six months of age were not found to show such biases).
Racial bias begins at younger age, without experience with other-race individuals
“…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 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 experience 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,”
This can be inferred because prior studies from other labs have indicated that many infants typically experience over 90 per cent own-race faces. Following this pattern, the current studies involved babies who had little to no prior experience with other-race individuals. “These findings thus point to the possibility that aspects of racial bias later in life may arise from our lack of exposure to other-race individuals in infancy,”
[See instinctive, fear response to ppl that “look” different.]
Study results could be significant in prevention of racial bias
He continued to explain that overall, the results of these studies are critically important given the issues of wide-spread racial bias and racism around the world.
“If we can pinpoint the starting point of racial bias, which we may have done here, we can start to find ways to prevent racial biases from happening…An important finding is that infants will learn from people they are most exposed to,” added Dr. Xiao, indicating that parents can help prevent racial bias by, for example, introducing their children to people from a variety of races.