Modifying ethnic attitudes in young children: The impact of communicator race and message strength

Philip Jai Johnson, Frances E. Aboud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Due to their sociocognitive limitations, children between the ages of 4 and 8 years tend to resist antibias messages from others. The purpose of this study was to examine if children would be more responsive to an antibias message as a function of the race of the communicator, the strength of the antibias message, and their ability to reconcile different perspectives. As children's inferences of communicators' attitudes constitute an unintended message, we assessed children's inferences of communicators' Black and White attitudes before and after the intervention. Children's own attitudes and cognitive elaboration of the antibias message were assessed after the intervention. Very few children were able to reconcile different ethnic perspectives. Results further revealed that communicators were inferred to hold more positive attitudes after the intervention, but that this was largely due to an increase in the ingroup communicator's inferred White attitudes and when the message was weak. Moreover, no difference was observed for children's own attitudes and cognitive elaboration of the message. Results are discussed with respect to social cognitive barriers that result in children's distortion or dismissal of antibias messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-191
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

Keywords

  • antibias messages
  • communicator race
  • ethnic attitudes
  • prejudice reduction
  • program evaluation

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