Race Essentialism and Social Contextual Differences in Children's Racial Stereotyping

Kristin Pauker*, Yiyuan Xu, Amanda T Williams, Ashley Biddle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

24 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


The authors explored the differential emergence and correlates of racial stereotyping in 136 children ages 4–11 years across two broad social contexts: Hawai'i and Massachusetts. Children completed measures assessing race salience, race essentialism, and in-group and out-group stereotyping. Results indicated that the type of racial stereotypes emerging with age was context dependent. In both contexts in-group stereotyping increased with age. In contrast, there was only an age-related increase in out-group stereotyping in Massachusetts. Older children in Massachusetts reported more essentialist thinking (i.e., believing that race cannot change) than their counterparts in Hawai'i, which explained their higher out-group stereotyping. These results provide insight into the factors that may shape contextual differences in racial stereotyping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1422
Number of pages14
JournalChild Development
Issue number5
Early online date29 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • social development
  • racial stereotyping
  • essentialism
  • origins of intergroup social cognition

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