Learning (not) to talk about race: when older children underperform in social categorization.

Department of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 10/2008; 44(5):1513-8. DOI: 10.1037/a0012835
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The present research identifies an anomaly in sociocognitive development, whereby younger children (8 and 9 years) outperform their older counterparts (10 and 11 years) in a basic categorization task in which the acknowledgment of racial difference facilitates performance. Though older children exhibit superior performance on a race-neutral version of the task, their tendency to avoid acknowledging race hinders objective success when race is a relevant category. That these findings emerge in late childhood, in a pattern counter to the normal developmental trajectory of increased cognitive expertise in categorization, suggests that this anomaly indicates the onset of a critical transition in human social development.

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