Names will never hurt me? Naming and the development of racial and gender categories in preschool-aged children

Sandra R. Waxman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

For children as well as adults, object categories (e.g., dog, animal, car, vehicle) serve as a rich base for inductive inferences. Here, we examine children's inferences regarding categories of people. We showed 4-year-old children a picture of an individual (e.g., a white woman), taught them a novel property of the individual (e.g., is good at a new game called zaggit), and examined children's projections of that property to other individuals. Experiment 1 revealed that children used the broad category person as an inductive base: they extended the novel property to other people, regardless of their race or gender, but not to non-human animals or artifacts. However, naming prompted children to use more specific social categories as an inductive base. When the target individual was identified as a member of a named, novel social category, children were more likely to extend the property to members of the same race-based (Experiment 2) or genderbased (Experiment 3) category as the target. Implications of naming in children's formation of social categories based on race or gender are discussed, and the consequences on the emergence of stereotypes are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-610
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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