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)peer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
194 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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