Addressing the Topics of Gender and Racial Discrimination with Children

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dr. Rebecca S. Bigler

Professor of Psychology, Women’s and Gender Studies
University of Texas at Austin

A host of motivational factors are likely to affect if, when, why, and how adults explicitly and implicitly address the topic of intergroup bias with children. For example, school personnel and parents might decide against discussing the topic with young children because of beliefs about children’s cognitive inability to grasp relevant concepts (e.g., discrimination) or fear of contradicting the beliefs of other individuals in children’s lives (e.g., parents if one is a teacher, relatives if one is a parent). Conversely, school personnel and parents might decide to discuss the topic because of a strong commitment to non-biased views, or desire to protect children from harm associated with being the victim of intergroup bias. I will present findings from several new studies of adults’ socialization of children’s knowledge and views of intergroup bias and the consequences for children’s intergroup attitudes.


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