How Kids Catch Our Social Biases

Scientific American:

While on the campaign trail Donald Trump was criticized for an incident in which he performed an exaggerated and unflattering  impression of journalist Serge Kovaleski, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist with a physical disability. While Mr. Trump insists that he was not mocking Mr. Kovaleski—and instead pointed out that he referred to Mr. Kovleski as “a nice reporter”—his nonverbal signals told a different story.

Those signals probably sent a powerful message. Recent research has explored whether young children develop bias against people by watching the nonverbal displays of the adults around them. The findings are worrying as they suggest that children can “catch” prejudice that they observe in adults, even when the bias is more subtle than that demonstrated by Trump.

In our forthcoming paper in Psychological Science, four- and five-year-old children observed adults display negative nonverbal signals, scowling and using an unfriendly tone of voice toward one person, while displaying positive nonverbal signals to another person. Moments later, children showed a bias in the same direction—favoring the person who received positive nonverbal signals.

Read the whole story: Scientific American

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