At what point in our young lives do we start thinking of people who are different from us as enemies?
Provocative new research from Germany suggests this problematic psychological process—which underpins racism, extreme nationalism, and prejudice of all sorts—kicks in somewhere around age seven.
Love for one’s own group and hatred for perceived outsiders are separate attitudes that emerge at different stages of a child’s development, according to University of Erfurt researchers David Buttelmann and Robert Böhm.
In the journal Psychological Science, they present evidence that six-year-olds show clear bias in favor of a group they belong to. However, hatred for opposing groups doesn’t show up until two years later.
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