Overhearing negative claims about social groups may influenc
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Throughout the world, societies discriminate against and mistreat members of certain social groups. Young children may express intergroup biases that lead to such outcomes, demonstrating preferences for their own over other groups. A new study revealed that overhearing a stranger's negative claims about a social group, even in a brief comment, can have a lasting influence on children's attitudes towards the group.

The study included 121 children from primarily White, middle-class families in Nashville, Tennessee, 48 percent of who were female, and who were recruited from local charter schools or through Tennessee state birth records. Consent forms were required for participation and were completed by a diverse group of parents who self-reported identifying as White, Black, Asian, or as multiple races or ethnicities. Demographic data were not collected from or about child participants.

Children overheard a video call between a researcher and an adult or child caller who made negative claims (or no claims) about a novel social group. Immediately and following a 2?week delay, older children (7–9 years) who overheard the message demonstrated stronger negative attitudes toward the group than children who heard no message. Younger children’s (4? to 5?year?olds’) attitudes were generally unaffected by these claims.

Overall, overhearing brief, indirect messages from children or adults had robust and lasting effects on the social biases of children 7 years and older.

Child Development
Source: https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13547