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ERIC Number: EJ1050302
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Feb
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 59
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Essentialist Thinking Predicts Decrements in Children's Memory for Racially Ambiguous Faces
Gaither, Sarah E.; Schultz, Jennifer R.; Pauker, Kristin; Sommers, Samuel R.; Maddox, Keith B.; Ambady, Nalini
Developmental Psychology, v50 n2 p482-488 Feb 2014
Past research shows that adults often display poor memory for racially ambiguous and racial outgroup faces, with both face types remembered worse than own-race faces. In the present study, the authors examined whether children also show this pattern of results. They also examined whether emerging essentialist thinking about race predicts children's memory for faces. Seventy-four White children (ages 4-9 years) completed a face-memory task comprising White, Black, and racially ambiguous Black-White faces. Essentialist thinking about race was also assessed (i.e., thinking of race as immutable and biologically based). White children who used essentialist thinking showed the same bias as White adults: They remembered White faces significantly better than they remembered ambiguous and Black faces. However, children who did not use essentialist thinking remembered both White and racially ambiguous faces significantly better than they remembered Black faces. This finding suggests a specific shift in racial thinking wherein the boundaries between racial groups become more discrete, highlighting the importance of how race is conceptualized in judgments of racially ambiguous individuals.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH); National Science Foundation
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts
IES Grant or Contract Numbers: K99HD065741-02