Developmental Science

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Volume 21 Issue 2 (March 2018), Pages

Young children perceive less humanness in outgroup faces

Abstract

We investigated when young children first dehumanize outgroups. Across two studies, 5‐ and 6‐year‐olds were asked to rate how human they thought a set of ambiguous doll‐human face morphs were. We manipulated whether these faces belonged to their gender in‐ or gender outgroup (Study 1) and to a geographically based in‐ or outgroup (Study 2). In both studies, the tendency to perceive outgroup faces as less human relative to ingroup faces increased with age. Explicit ingroup preference, in contrast, was present even in the youngest children and remained stable across age. These results demonstrate that children dehumanize outgroup members from relatively early in development and suggest that the tendency to do so may be partially distinguishable from intergroup preference. This research has important implications for our understanding of children's perception of humanness and the origins of intergroup bias.

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