Children’s Spontaneous Associations with Targets who Differ by Race and Emotional Expression

Corey Lipman, Amanda Williams, Kerry Kawakami, Jennifer R Steele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Across three studies, we examined non-Black children’s spontaneous associations with targets who differed by both race and emotional expression. Children aged 5- to 10-years (N = 419; 215 girls; 58% White; 65% of household incomes >$75,000/year) completed Implicit Association Tests (IAT; Greenwald et al., 2003) containing smiling Black and neutral White target faces. In all three studies, when children categorized these faces by emotional expression, they were faster to pair smiling Black targets with pleasant images and neutral White targets with unpleasant images relative to the reverse pairing, as compared to when they categorized by race. This was the case when children were shown how to categorize these faces (Studies 1 and 2) and when they spontaneously categorized by race or emotional expression on an ambiguous-categorization IAT that allowed for categorization by race and/or emotion (Studies 2 and 3). In Study 3, after watching an adult explain that she was categorizing racially diverse faces by emotional expression in a seemingly unrelated card-sorting task, children were also relatively faster to pair smiling Black faces with pleasant images and neutral White faces with unpleasant images in this ambiguous-categorization IAT compared to children in a control condition. Older children were more likely to spontaneously categorize primarily by race (Studies 2 & 3) but were also more likely to categorize by emotion following the intervention (Study 3) compared to younger children. Together, these studies provide insight into children’s social categorization processes and spontaneous associations with targets who differ systematically across multiple perceptually salient categories.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 26 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • implicit
  • race
  • emotion
  • children
  • categorization
  • intersectionality

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