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Origins of “Us” versus “Them”: Prelinguistic infants prefer similar others

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Abstract

A central feature of human psychology is our pervasive tendency to divide the social world into “us” and “them”. We prefer to associate with those who are similar to us over those who are different, preferentially allocate resources to similar others, and hold more positive beliefs about similar others. Here we investigate the developmental origins of these biases, asking if preference for similar others occurs prior to language and extensive exposure to cultural norms. We demonstrate that, like adults, prelinguistic infants prefer those who share even trivial similarities with themselves, and these preferences appear to reflect a cognitive comparison process (“like me”/“not like me”). However, unlike adults, infants do not appear to prefer others with an utterly arbitrary similarity to themselves. Together, these findings suggest that the phenomena of ingroup bias, and enhanced interpersonal attraction toward those who resemble ourselves, may be rooted in an inherent preference for similarity to self, which itself may be enhanced during development by the influence of cultural values.

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... Such positive bias toward one's ingroup members emerges early in lifeindeed, prelinguistic infants demonstrate a significant preference for those who belong to their own-ethnic group (Kelly et al., 2005), speak their native tongue (Kinzler, Dupoux, & ☆ This paper has been recommended for acceptance by Rachel Barkan. Spelke, 2007), or share even trivial attributes (e.g., similar foods) with themselves (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). Because of its prevalence and early developmental roots, some researchers argue that ingroup bias may be driven by an internal, spontaneous predisposition toward selfcategorization into social groups and therefore does not stem from social learning (for a review, see Dunham, 2018). ...
... Our study went further by demonstrating that reflexive ingroup favoritism existed in both Chinese and Western cultures. Such cultural universality contributes to the growth of evidence for the prevalence and early developmental roots of ingroup favoritism in a wide range of social behavior (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012;Powell & Spelke, 2013;Romano, Sutter, Liu, Yamagishi, & Balliet, 2021). Therefore, it is likely that ingroup bias stems from inherent features of the human mind (Dunham, 2018). ...
Article
Third-party punishment (TPP) is critical for promoting cooperation and maintaining societal stability by deterring norm violations. Research has shown that TPP is influenced by ingroup bias, whereby people punish outgroup norm violators more severely than ingroups. The current study examined the social-cognitive mechanisms of the ingroup bias in TPP using a dual-process framework from a cross-cultural perspective. We asked whether people from different cultures were predisposed to ingroup bias, and whether this bias would change through reflection. To investigate this issue, we conducted five experiments employing economic games in Chinese and Western adults (total n = 1300) and a single-paper meta-analysis. Participants observed that ingroup and outgroup members allocated resources unfairly, and then decided how much money to deduct as punishment toward allocators in the reflexive or reflective modes (by manipulating response time constraint or cognitive load). Across a range of experimental designs, results provided converging evidence that Chinese and Western participants both exhibited ingroup favoritism in the reflexive mode, but behaved differently in the reflective mode: Chinese participants remained punishing ingroups less than outgroups, although they felt guilty and spent longer time dealing with ingroup violations; by contrast, ingroup favoritism decreased in the Western sample, especially among high group identifiers. These findings suggest that ingroup favoritism during TPP is reflexive and culturally universal, but it is manifested in different ways to meet specific cultural expectations when punishers make decisions in the reflective mode. This study thus deepens our understanding of how and why TPP is group-biased.
... Because the overwhelming familiarity of adult faces might have prevailed on a potentially subtler sensibility to the baby schema (Sanefuji et al., 2005), the infant/child face comparison may prove to be better suited to assess infant preference for infant faces than the infant/adult face contrast (Lewis & Brooks, 1975;Sanefuji et al., 2005). Furthermore, findings that 11.5-month-olds exhibit a preference for individuals sharing similarities with themselves in a ''like me/not like me" comparison process (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012; for related discussions on the developmental origin of a ''like me" representation, see also Meltzoff, 2005Meltzoff, , 2007 also support the idea that infants might present a bias for infant faces over child faces. ...
... Moreover, recent work demonstrating age-related change in the baby schema effect between adolescence and adulthood (Luo et al., 2020) suggests a largely protracted development of sensitivity to the baby schema. Likewise, the current results do not support a preference for ''similar other" or peer preference (e.g., Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), at least not when assessed with a visual preference procedure. ...
Article
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The current study examined the influence of everyday perceptual experience with infant and child faces on the shaping of visual biases for faces in 3.5-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month-old infants. In Experiment 1, infants were presented with pairs of photographs of unfamiliar child and infant faces. Four groups with differential experience with infant and child faces were composed from parents’ reports of daily exposure with infants and children (no experience, infant face experience, child face experience, and both infant and child face experience) to assess influence of experience on face preferences. Results showed that infants from all age groups displayed a bias for the novel category of faces in relation to their previous exposure to infant and child faces. In Experiment 2, this pattern of visual attention was reversed in infants presented with pictures of personally familiar child faces (i.e., older siblings) compared with unfamiliar infant faces, especially in older infants. These results suggest that allocation of attention for novelty can supersede familiarity biases for faces depending on experience and highlight that multiple factors drive infant visual behavior in responding to the social world.
... Participants next chose between the "liked" (e.g., apples) and "disliked" food (e.g., green beans) for a snack that "tastes really good." This choice served to affirm the accuracy of participants' initial ratings and make their preferences salient for subsequent tasks (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). By having the script emphasize that the decision was to be based on taste as opposed to nutrition, we sought to reduce the likelihood that participants would feel motivated to select a nutritious yet undesired food (see Nguyen et al., 2015). ...
... Two child-like puppets were introduced to the participants. The puppets were identical with the exception of their scarf colors, either yellow or orange (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012) and ...
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While adults robustly seek variety and expect others to do so, it is unclear whether children expect others to enjoy and preferentially choose variety in the domain of food. Seventy-nine children encountered an agent, depicted by a puppet, who liked two diverse foods. The children themselves liked only one of these foods. Older children (M = 5;11) expected this agent to be happier with, and to preferentially choose, a serving of both foods rather than a serving of a single food type, consistent with variety-seeking preferences. Five- and 6-year-olds can therefore simultaneously represent others’ diverse desires as co-existing and causing preferences for variety over homogeneity. In contrast, younger children (M = 4;0) did not robustly attribute variety-seeking preferences to this agent. Predictions of variety-seeking food preferences may relate to children’s developing theory of mind abilities and could be harnessed in nutritional interventions to improve children’s diets.
... Children like others who share their food preferences (Fawcett & Markson, 2010;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), and infants expect similarity in food preferences to guide third-party social relationships (Liberman et al., 2014;Liberman, Woodward, Sullivan, & Kinzler, 2016). In addition, we chose to investigate similarity in gender because it may be an even stronger indicator of friendship; children tend to choose same-gender friends, and they predict that gender will guide other people's friendship choices (e.g., Gordon, 2018;Martin, Fabes, Evans, & Wyman, 1999;Rose & Smith, 2018;see Shutts, 2015, for an overview), In fact, shared gender is such a strong friendship cue that many times analyses of friendship networks control for gender to investigate the impact of other cues (e.g., Clark & Ayers, 1992;Lewis, Kaufman, Gonzalez, Wimmer, & Christakis, 2008). ...
... Our previous results (Study 1b) suggest that choice may be important for children's expectations about friendship; children infer friendship based on spending time together by choice (playing) more than on mere proximity (random assignment). Indeed, the importance of choice is echoed in other research; children's reasoning about free will affects their moral decisions (Chernyak & Kushnir, 2013), and infants prefer similar characters only when the similarity came from an active choice and not random assignment (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). Therefore, in a final study, we created a new version of each cue that clearly indicated a role of choice. ...
Article
Friendship fundamentally shapes interactions, and predicting other people's affiliations is crucial for effectively navigating the social world. We investigated how 3- to 11-year-old children use three cues to reason about friendship: propinquity, similarity, and loyalty. In past work, researchers asked children to report on their own friendships and found a shift from an early focus on propinquity to a much later understanding of the importance of loyalty. Indeed, attention to loyalty was not standard until adolescence. Across four studies (total N = 900), we used a simpler method in which we asked children to make a forced-choice decision about which of two people a main character was better friends with. Although we replicated the finding that understanding the importance of loyalty increases with age, we also found evidence that even the youngest children tested (3- to 5-year-olds) can use loyalty to predict friendship. Thus, a sophisticated understanding of how social interactions unfold differently between friends and nonfriends may be evident by the preschool years. We also discuss interesting developmental differences in how children weigh the importance of each of these friendship cues.
... Young children's affiliation with others who share their preferences may be explained by the general preference for similar others, a preference evident from infancy (e.g., Mahajan and Wynn, 2012). According to Dishion et al. (1994), interpersonal similarity may lead to an emotional sense of connectedness that begins the process of becoming friends. ...
Article
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This study investigated five-year-olds’ priority between shared preference and group membership in resource allocation, social preference, and social evaluation. Using a forced-choice resource allocation task and a friend choice task, we first demonstrate that five-year-old children distribute more resources to and prefer a character who shares a preference with them when compared to a character who has a different preference. Then, we pitted the shared preference against group membership to investigate children’s priority. Children prioritized group membership over shared preference, allotting more resources to and showing more preference toward characters in the same group who did not share their preferences than those from a different group who shared their preferences. Lastly, children evaluated resource allocation and social preference in others that prioritized group membership or shared preference. Children regarded prioritization of group membership more positively than prioritization of shared preference from the perspective of a third person. The results suggest that children by five years of age consider group membership as of greater importance than shared preference not only in their own resource allocation and social preference, but also in their evaluation of others’ resource allocation and liking.
... Attention to race emerges early in infancy. Infants prefer to look at faces of people whose race matches those of their primary caregivers and those closest to them (Anzures et al., 2013;Bar-Haim et al., 2006;Dunham et al., 2015;Lee et al., 2017;Liu et al., 2015;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012;Sangrigoli & De Schonen, 2004;Sugden & Marquis, 2017). These early perceptual preferences, evident as early as 3 months of age, are guided by infants' own experience. ...
Article
Overt expressions of racial intolerance have surged precipitously. The dramatic uptick in hate crimes and hate speech is not lost on young children. But how, and how early, do children become aware of racial bias? And when do their own views of themselves and others become infused with racial bias? This article opens with a brief overview of the existing experimental evidence documenting developmental entry points of racial bias in infants and young children and how it unfolds. The article then goes on to identify gaps in the extant research and outlines three steps to narrow them. By bringing together what we know and what remains unknown, the goal is to provide a springboard, motivating a more comprehensive psychological-science framework that illuminates early steps in the acquisition of racial bias. If we are to interrupt race bias at its inception and diminish its effects, then we must build strong cross-disciplinary bridges that span the psychological and related social sciences to shed light on the pressing issues facing our nation’s young children and their families.
... There have been many scholarly discussions on the innate and universal nature of psychological essentialism as a fundamental cognitive framework. Empirical studies on infant cognition demonstrated that social categorization (i.e., the differentiating between "us versus them") and in-group preference already emerge at a very early life stage (Kiley Hamlin et al., 2010;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), thereby suggesting the innate nature of social categorization. Previous studies beyond W.E.I.R.D. societies (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic;Henrich et al., 2010) provided some (albeit limited) cross-cultural evidence for the presence of psychological essentialism (e.g., Astuti et al., 2004;Atran et al., 2002;Davoodi et al., 2020;Medin & Atran, 2004;Vapnarsky et al., 2001). ...
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Nationality constitutes a salient part of social categorization. However, little research has examined how people form nationality concepts and how it may be shaped by culture and experience. The current study aims to investigate essentialist beliefs about nationality in participants from two cultural origins: the United States and China. In both samples, we compared college students studying domestically and internationally (N = 290) by using direct and indirect measures of essentialism. Ratings from direct measures of essentialism revealed that American participants were more likely than Chinese participants to perceive national groups as natural, whereas Chinese participants were more likely than American participants to perceive national groups as cohesive. Interestingly, the observed differences between domestic and international students on the indirect measure showed opposite directions among participants of different cultures of origin. As hypothesized, American international students showed lower essentialist thinking than American domestic students. Surprisingly, Chinese international students showed stronger essentialist thinking than Chinese domestic students. Further analyses revealed a positive relationship between the length of arrival time and essentialist thinking by Chinese international students. The current research demonstrates the cognitive malleability of social essentialism, addressing the importance of examining the effect of intergroup processes under diverse and dynamic cultural contexts.
... However, using similarity to choose social partners begins quite early in development: 1 year olds preferred puppets that shared their food preference (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), and 3 year old preferred others that had similar preferences or appearance to them (i.e., hair color, Fawcett & Markson, 2010). Interestingly, in both of these cases, young children were not attending to surface-level similarity: in control conditions, neither 1 nor 3 year olds preferred characters that were assigned to wear the same-colored clothing as them. ...
Preprint
Friendship is a fundamental part of being human. Understanding which cues indicate friendship and what friendship entails is critical for navigating the social world. We survey research on three- to six-year-old children’s friendship concepts, discussing both classic work from the 1970s and 1980s using interview methods, as well as current work using simpler experimental tasks. We focus on three core features of young children’s friendship concepts: 1) proximity, 2) prosocial interactions, and 3) similarity. For each, we discuss how recent findings extend and expand classic foundations. Importantly, we highlight that children’s knowledge develops earlier and is deeper than initially hypothesized, and how children’s abilities are supported by early social inferences in infancy. We examine the implications of young children’s friendship concepts and note exciting new avenues for future research.
... For instance, by 1-year of age, a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 infants more easily associate positively valenced stimuli with individuals who speak their own language, than with individuals who speak another language [1], and associate positively valenced music with own-race faces and negatively valenced music with other-race faces [2]. In other words, by 1 year of age, infants seem capable of representing certain social groups, and have valenced attitudes towards them [see also 3,4]. ...
Article
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Recent studies indicate that a preference for people from one’s own race emerges early in development. Arguably, one potential process contributing to such a bias has to do with the increased discriminability of own- vs. other-race faces–a process commonly attributed to perceptual narrowing of unfamiliar groups’ faces, and analogous to the conceptual homogenization of out-groups. The present studies addressed two implications of perceptual narrowing of other-race faces for infants’ social categorization capacity. In Experiment 1, White 11-month-olds’ ( N = 81) looking time at a Black vs. White face was measured under three between-subjects conditions: a baseline “preference” (i.e., without familiarization), after familiarization to Black faces, or after familiarization to White faces. Compared to infants’ a priori looking preferences as revealed in the baseline condition, only when familiarized to Black faces did infants look longer at the "not-familiarized-category" face at test. According to the standard categorization paradigm used, such longer looking time at the novel (i.e., "not-familiarized-category") exemplar at test, indicated that categorization of the familiarized faces had ensued. This is consistent with the idea that prior to their first birthday, infants already tend to represent own-race faces as individuals and other-race faces as a category. If this is the case, then infants might also be less likely to form subordinate categories within other-race than own-race categories. In Experiment 2, infants ( N = 34) distinguished between an arbitrary (shirt-color) based sub-categories only when shirt-wearers were White, but not when they were Black. These findings confirm that perceptual narrowing of other-race faces blurs distinctions among members of unfamiliar categories. Consequently, infants: a) readily categorize other-race faces as being of the same kind, and b) find it hard to distinguish between their sub-categories.
... The current findings inspire additional avenues for research. In this study, messages about the novel group were purposely brief but detailed; they included multiple pieces of information about the group's culture (food, language, and clothing) that children and adults commonly use to infer group membership (Dunham, Baron, & Banaji, 2008;Liberman, Woodward, & Kinzler, 2017;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). The group was also described as generally "bad." ...
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Societies are rife with out-group discrimination and mistreatment. One way that children might acquire social biases that lead to such outcomes is by overhearing derogatory or disparaging comments about social groups. Children (n=121) overheard a video call between a researcher and an adult or child caller who made negative claims (or no claims) about a novel social group. Immediately and following a two-week delay, older children (7-9 years) who overheard the message demonstrated stronger negative attitudes toward the group than children who heard no message. Younger children’s (4-5-year-olds’) attitudes were generally unaffected by these claims. Thus, overhearing brief, indirect messages from children or adults had robust and lasting effects on the social biases of children 7-years and older.
... From an early age, humans tend to categorize ourselves and others as "us versus them" (Liberman, Woodward, & Kinzler, 2017;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). These categorizations can lead individuals to enact disparate behaviors toward ingroup and outgroup members. ...
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Roughly twenty years of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have investigated the neural correlates underlying engagement in social cognition (e.g., empathy, emotion perception) about targets spanning various social categories (e.g., race, gender). Yet findings from individual studies remain mixed. In the present quantitative functional neuroimaging meta-analysis, we summarized across 50 fMRI studies of social cognition to identify consistent differences in neural activation as a function of whether the target of social cognition was an ingroup or outgroup member. We investigated if such differences varied according to social category (i.e., race) and social cognitive process (i.e., empathy, emotion perception). We found that social cognition about ingroup members was more reliably related to activity in brain regions associated with mentalizing (e.g., dmPFC), whereas social cognition about outgroup members was more reliably related to activity in regions associated with exogenous attention and salience (e.g., anterior insula). These findings replicated for studies specifically focused on the social category of race, and we further found intergroup differences in neural activation during empathy and emotion perception tasks. These results help shed light on the neural mechanisms underlying social cognition across group lines.
... The effect of similarity on interpersonal attraction and benevolence is quite robust: It has been found not only when people share important or desirable qualities (e.g., core values) but also when people share seemingly unimportant qualities (e.g., birthdays or painting preferences; Miller, Downs, & Prentice, 1998;Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Flament, 1971) and even undesirable qualities (Locke, 2005). The link between perceived similarity and liking is probably innate and certainly emerges early; for example, infants preferred stuffed animals that appeared to share their food preferences (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). Nonetheless, the positive affective consequences of connective comparisons are stronger in people with stronger dispositional communal motives (e.g., who say it is particularly important that others "understand me" and "support me"; Locke, 2003). ...
Chapter
The aim of the current chapter is to clarify and illustrate how social motives and social comparisons shape each other and how their expression and implications are shaped by the social context.
... For example, studies of the ontogeny of attitudes toward in-group and out-group members (e.g., Mahajan and Wynn, 2012;Buttelmann and Böhm, 2014) are predicated on the assumption that socially motivated cognitive grouping is part of human behavior and likely emerges quite early. Judgments of an informant's value as both a linguistic and a non-linguistic source of information are tightly linked in infants (Kinzler et al., 2007;Schachner and Hannon, 2011). ...
Article
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We incorporate social reasoning about groups of informants into a model of word learning, and show that the model accounts for infant looking behavior in tasks of both word learning and recognition. Simulation 1 models an experiment where 16-month-old infants saw familiar objects labeled either correctly or incorrectly, by either adults or audio talkers. Simulation 2 reinterprets puzzling data from the Switch task, an audiovisual habituation procedure wherein infants are tested on familiarized associations between novel objects and labels. Eight-month-olds outperform 14-month-olds on the Switch task when required to distinguish labels that are minimal pairs (e.g., “buk” and “puk”), but 14-month-olds' performance is improved by habituation stimuli featuring multiple talkers. Our modeling results support the hypothesis that beliefs about knowledgeability and group membership guide infant looking behavior in both tasks. These results show that social and linguistic development interact in non-trivial ways, and that social categorization findings in developmental psychology could have substantial implications for understanding linguistic development in realistic settings where talkers vary according to observable features correlated with social groupings, including linguistic, ethnic, and gendered groups.
... The first explanation is consistent with at least three lines of research. First, there is evidence that even infants prefer individuals who are similar to them on some dimension (Kelly et al., 2005;Kinzler et al., 2012;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), and have positive associations regarding members of their group (Pun et al., 2018;Xiao et al., 2018). Second, from a young age, children already manifest automatic implicit intergroup biases regarding various social groups (Dunham et al., 2006;Essa et al., 2019). ...
Article
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This study evaluated the effectiveness of a vicarious contact intervention program for improving knowledge and attitudes of Jewish-Israeli secular and religious children regarding their ingroup and three outgroups: secular/religious Jews, Ethiopian-descendant Jews, and Arabs. One hundred and nine kindergartners participated in a four-week intervention, in which experimenters introduced to them four persona dolls representing the different groups. Accompanied by stories, children were exposed to the dolls’ individual and group characteristics, and to positive encounters between the dolls. A pre- and post-test battery assessed the intervention’s effects on children’s intergroup knowledge and attitudes. Findings revealed an increase in children’s knowledge of the groups, improvements in religious children’s attitudes towards Arabs, and in both secular and religious children’s willingness to sit closer to Ethiopian-descendant children. These findings highlight the potential of indirect contact for reducing intergroup bias in young children living in multicultural and conflict-ridden societies.
... For example, most infants will approach their mother over a stranger when given a choice (Corter, 1973). Additionally, laboratory studies reveal that infants develop and express preferences for individuals based on their actions-for example, favoring those who have behaved prosocially (Hamlin, Wynn, & Bloom, 2007) as well as those who mirror infants' own actions and choices (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). But, do infants like and feel closer to groups of people? ...
Chapter
In this chapter, we bridge research on scientific and counterfactual reasoning. We review findings that children struggle with many aspects of scientific experimentation in the absence of formal instruction, but show sophistication in the ability to reason about counterfactual possibilities. We connect these two sets of findings by reviewing relevant theories on the relation between causal, scientific, and counterfactual reasoning before describing a growing body of work that indicates that prompting children to consider counterfactual alternatives can scaffold both the scientific inquiry process (hypothesis-testing and evidence evaluation) and science concept learning. This work suggests that counterfactual thought experiments are a promising pedagogical tool. We end by discussing several open questions for future research.
... Beyond the types of information included in a story, learners are also sensitive to the identity and reputation of the storyteller. These model-based transmission biases include prestige (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001), success (Mesoudi, 2008), and similarity bias (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012;McElreath et al., 2003). In this study, we specifically examine prestige bias, which involves a preference to learn from individuals of high social position, reputation, and knowledge (Berl et al., 2020). ...
... However, using similarity to choose social partners begins quite early in development: 1 year olds preferred puppets that shared their food preference (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012), and 3 year old preferred others that had similar preferences or appearance to them (i.e., hair color, Fawcett & Markson, 2010). Interestingly, in both of these cases, young children were not attending to surface-level similarity: in control conditions, neither 1 nor 3 year olds preferred characters that were assigned to wear the same-colored clothing as them. ...
Article
Friendship is a fundamental part of being human. Understanding which cues indicate friendship and what friendship entails is critical for navigating the social world. We survey research on 3‐ to 6‐year‐old children’s friendship concepts, discussing both classic work from the 1970s and 1980s using interview methods, as well as current work using simpler experimental tasks. We focus on three core features of young children’s friendship concepts: (1) proximity, (2) prosocial interactions, and (3) similarity. For each, we discuss how recent findings extend and expand classic foundations. Importantly, we highlight that children’s knowledge develops earlier and is deeper than initially hypothesized, and how children’s abilities are supported by early social inferences in infancy. We examine the implications of young children’s friendship concepts and note exciting new avenues for future research.
... [1] This, in turn, could be building on an inherent preference for a "similarity to self". [2] More importantly, all such tendencies should probably be seen in the context of an even more profound human biological characteristic, that of neoteny. What is neoteny BioEssays. ...
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This article describes aspects of our biological nature that have contributed to the dangerous current state of societal, ecological and climatological affairs. Next, it deals with stratagems to take these aspects into account, so as to allow us better choices. I will concentrate on the concepts of evolved group mechanisms and "neoteny" and explain why they direct our responses throughout our lives. The connection between our biological make-up and our vulnerability to the current rise of certain kinds of irrational, undemocratic, populism is also laid bare. I will end by listing some simple, but possibly controversial, proposals that might have value in combating these societal tendencies and help decision making in a reality-based, more scientific, manner.
... Already prelinguistic infants are capable of recognizing categorial distinctions among humans. They demonstrate a preference to look at own-ethnicity faces and listen to ownlanguage speakers, and prefer those others who share trivial, but not arbitrary, similarities to themselves (Kelly et al., 2005;Kinzler, 2021;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). From a very young age, children are alert to the categorial distinctions that are meaningful and used in their social environment and quickly familiarize themselves to what they are exposed to. ...
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There are various theoretical approaches for understanding intergroup biases among children and adolescents. This article focuses on the social identity approach and argues that existing research will benefit by more fully considering the implications of this approach for examining intergroup relations among youngsters. These implications include (a) the importance of self-categorization, (b) the role of self-stereotyping and group identification, (c) the relevance of shared understandings and developing ingroup consensus, and (d) the importance of coordinated action for positive and negative intergroup relations. These implications of the social identity approach suggest several avenues for investigating children’s and adolescents’ intergroup relations that have not been fully appreciated in the existing literature. However, there are also limitations to the social identity approach for the developmental understanding and some of these are discussed.
... Theories of interpersonal behavior (Sullivan, 1939;1949Leary, 1957Schutz, 1966) converge in their predictions that in a dyad, both members are assessing their own and the other's behavior. Assessing the similarity of the other to the self is observed before language develops and has interpersonal consequences (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012;Hamlin, Mahajan, Liberman, & Wynn, 2013). Interpersonal assumptions and assessments are the basis for understanding the past in the present, and for predicting the future of an interpersonal relationship (Schutz, 1966), and this research offers data regarding these interpersonal mechanisms. ...
... Dunfield et al., 2011), and loyalty (e.g. Hamlin et al., 2013;Mahajan & Wynn, 2012) from infancy (see Hamlin, 2013 for a review). ...
Article
Theorizing posits that moral judgment and reasoning stem from intuitions from at least one of six cognitive moral modules. Research has examined how media exposure influences aspects of moral development among children and adolescents. These lines of research remain largely unintegrated, however, and extant theories lack an explicit developmental perspective. We argue that Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) is a useful tool for contextualizing past findings and thus review the extant literature in this area. Secondly, we integrate developmental theory with MFT and the Model of Intuitive Morality and Exemplars. This paper will help researchers to understand how human development and media use interact to influence moral module salience, with implications for understanding effects of exposure on children and adolescents.
... Our people-sorting capacity plays out in social psychology through in-group formation and bias (Brewer 2007) and in personality psychology via the need to belong as a fundamental human motivation (Baumeister and Leary 1995). A body of evidence from developmental psychology suggests that our sensitivities here emerge early in life (Kelly et al. 2005;Kinzler et al. 2007;Mahajan and Wynn 2012). These sensitivities perhaps build on what Meltzoff (2007) calls "like me" detectors used in infant imitation (Meltzoff and Moore 1977;see Oostenbroek et al. 2016 for a critique). ...
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The conceptualisation of kinship and its study remain contested within anthropology. This paper draws on recent cognitive science, developmental cognitive psychology, and the philosophy of science to offer a novel argument for a view of kinship as progeneratively or reproductively constrained. I shall argue that kinship involves a form of extended cognition that incorporates progenerative facts, going on to show how the resulting articulation of kinship’s progenerative nature can be readily expressed by an influential conception of kinds, the homeostatic property cluster view. Identifying the distinctive role that our extended cognitive access to progenerative facts plays in kinship delivers an integrative, progenerativist view that avoids standard performativist criticisms of progenerativism as being ethnocentric, epistemically naïve, and reductive.
... When an avatar is used in non-traditional economies, the first question we pose is whether or not the similarity of the avatar to the shopper would influence psychological ownership. From infancy, people tend to favor those who are similar to themselves and are biased toward them (Mahajan and Wynn, 2012;Gaertner and Insko, 2000). Research on buyer-seller similarity and its relationship with sales performance has shown mixed results for observable similarity traits, but positive results for internal similarity, or the perception that the salesperson thinks, feels, and acts the same as the customer (Lichtenthal and Tellefsen 2001). ...
... If children do make distinctions between different out-groups, one possibility is that they make distinctions between out-groups with reference to the similarity dimension. This possibility is supported by evidence that similarity-based preferences are evident very early in life: even infants prefer native speakers of their language (Kinzler, Dupoux, & Spelke, 2007) and individuals who share their food preferences (Mahajan & Wynn, 2012). Additionally, infants raised in a racially homogenous environment generally prefer faces of their own race (Bar-Haim, Ziv, Lamy, & Hodes, 2006). ...
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Children generally favor individuals in their own group over others, but it is unclear which dimensions of the out‐group affect this bias. This issue was investigated among 7‐ to 8‐year‐old and 11‐ to 12‐year‐old Iranian children (N = 71). Participants evaluated in‐group members and three different out‐groups: Iranian children from another school, Arab children, and children from the United States. Children’s evaluations closely aligned with the perceived social status of the groups, with Americans viewed as positively as in‐group members and Arabs viewed negatively. These patterns were evident on measures of affiliation, trust, and loyalty. These findings, which provide some of the first insights into the social cognition of Iranian children, point to the role of social status in the formation of intergroup attitudes.
... This judgment of a self-other dichotomy can be based on a variety of often superficial factors that present the quality of similarity. They can range from skin colour and personal beliefs [18], to the colour of a t-shirt and preference for crackers over green beans in infants [113], to even experimentally-induced false belief of groupdivision based on impressionist art preference [171]. Notably, these Mentis et al. [116]. ...
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Human connection is essential for our personal well-being and a building block for a well-functioning society. There is a prominent interest in the potential of technology for mediating social con- nection, with a wealth of systems designed to foster the feeling of connection between strangers, friends, and family. By surveying this design landscape we present a transitional definition of medi- ated genuine connection and nine design strategies embodied within 50 design artifacts: affective self-disclosure, reflection on unity, shared embodied experience, transcendent emotions, embodied metaphors, interpersonal distance, touch, provocations, and play. In addition to drawing on design practice-based knowledge we also identify un- derlying psychological theories that can inform these strategies. We discuss design considerations pertaining to sensory modalities, vulnerability–comfort trade-offs, consent, situatedness in context, supporting diverse relationships, reciprocity, attention directed- ness, pursuing generalized knowledge, and questions of ethics. We hope to inspire and enrich designers’ understanding of the possi- bilities of technology to better support a mediated genuine feeling of connection.
... Another factor that drives children's social preference is similarity, which involves social categories but also behavioural cues. Preverbal infants like more puppets that hold the same objects or prefer the same food as themselves than puppets that do not (Mahajan & Wynn 2012, see also Fawcett & Markson 2010 for similar results with 3-year-old children). Between 2 and 3 years of age, children affiliate and play more with peers of the same gender and same age as themselves (Challman 1932;Chevaleva-Janovskaja 1927;La Freniere, Strayer & Gauthier 1984). ...
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Navigating the social world requires evaluating how others behave, communicate and feel. Children show signs of social evaluation from an early age by preferring those who are familiar, those who are similar to themselves as well as those displaying moral behaviour. In the current study, we investigate whether another key dimension of the social environment-social dominance-influences preschool-ers preferences. Research shows that preschoolers understand such relations and use them to make social inferences. Less is known about their preferences towards dominant and subordinate individuals. We carried out two experiments. Experiment 1 presented 4-and 5-year-old children with a dominance scenario in which one dominant character twice imposed his/her will on a subordinate. The results showed that the children did not reveal a preference for one character over the other. In Experiment 2, 3-to 5-year-old children were presented with more explicit dominance interactions involving puppets in a decision power scenario (similar to Experiment 1's) and in a play-fight scenario. In the decision power situation, only the 3-year-olds revealed a preference for the dominant; also, boys were more likely to prefer the dominant than girls. In the play-fight scenario a slight preference emerges for the puppet that prevailed in the fight.
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Along with genetics and genomics, the neurosciences currently share the dubious honor of being considered able to enlighten us on fundamental questions of human existence. One of these questions is the issue of sex/gender—in science, this boils down to an urge to explain whether women and men differ from each other. Comparisons of women versus men, along with distinctions related to racial or ethnic groups, have been among the most extensively investigated since the emergence of physical anthropology, psychopathology, and craniology in the nineteenth century. Yet despite the enthusiasm over empirical practices of knowledge production, the history of establishing sex/gender differences is both a history of failure and of constant renewal.
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The current study probed whether infants understand themselves in relation to others. Infants aged 16 to 26 months (n = 102) saw their parent wearing a sticker on their forehead or cheek, depending on experimental condition, placed unwitnessed by the child. Infants then received a sticker themselves, and their spontaneous behavior was coded. Regardless of age, from 16 months, all infants who placed the sticker on themselves, placed it on the location on their own face matching their parent's placement. This shows that infants as young as 16 months of age have an internal map of their face in relation to others that they can use to guide their behavior. Whether infants placed the sticker on their face was related to other measures associated with self-concept development (the use of their own name and mirror self-recognition), indicating that it may reflect a social aspect of children's developing self-concept, namely their understanding of themselves in relation and comparison to others. About half of the infants placed the sticker on themselves, while others put it elsewhere in the surrounding, indicating an additional motivational component to bring about on themselves the state which they observed on their parent. Together, infants’ placement of the sticker in our task suggests an ability to compare, and motivation to align, self and other. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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To successfully navigate their social world, humans need to understand and map enduring relationships between people: Humans need a concept of social affiliation. Here I propose that the initial concept of social affiliation, available in infancy, is based on the extent to which one individual consistently takes on the goals and needs of another. This proposal grounds affiliation in intuitive psychology, as formalized in the naive-utility-calculus model. A concept of affiliation based on interpersonal utility adoption can account for findings from studies of infants' reasoning about imitation, similarity, helpful and fair individuals, "ritual" behaviors, and social groups without the need for additional innate mechanisms such as a coalitional psychology, moral sense, or general preference for similar others. I identify further tests of this proposal and also discuss how it is likely to be relevant to social reasoning and learning across the life span.
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Beginning in infancy, children expect individuals in a group to care for and be loyal to in-group members. One prominent cue that children use to infer that individuals belong to the same group is similarity. Does any salient similarity among individuals elicit an expectation of in-group preference, or does contextual information modulate these expectations? In Experiments 1 and 2, 12-month-old infants expected in-group preference between two individuals who wore the same novel outfit, but they dismissed this similarity if one of the outfits was used to fulfill an instrumental purpose. In Experiment 3, 26-month-old toddlers expected in-group preference between two individuals who uttered the same novel labels, but they dismissed this similarity if the labels were used to convey incidental as opposed to categorical information about the individuals. Together, the results of these experiments ( N = 96) provide converging evidence that from early in life, children possess a context-sensitive mechanism for determining whether similarities mark groups.
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In four experiments, we explored children’s use of shared clothing style to infer grouplevel knowledge. In Experiment 1, 3-and 4-year-olds and 6-and-7-year-olds inferred that those wearing identical clothing (i.e., same style, color, and pattern) were likely to share the same knowledge, while those who wore different clothing were not. In Experiment 2, we introduce variation into the clothing to make it more difficult for children to use a similarity heuristic. In this case, 6-and-7-year-olds but not 3- and 4-year-olds, used clothing style to make inferences about shared knowledge. Using the same varied clothing styles, Experiment 3 demonstrates that 3-and 4-year-olds use clothing style to make other social inferences (i.e., about friendship choices), demonstrating that younger children are capable of making some social inferences based on shared clothing style. Finally, Experiment 4 tested the mechanism underlying older children's judgments. Namely, we manipulated the ownership status of the garment and found that when the same clothing style was worn by an owner, but not a borrower, older children inferred shared knowledge.
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Ingroup favoritism and fairness are two potentially competing motives guiding intergroup behaviors in human. Here, we investigate if and how limited resources can modulate the way these two motives affect individuals’ decisions in intergroup situation. In the present study, participants (N = 58) were asked to accept or reject three types of resource allocation proposals generated by a computer: the ingroup advantageous condition, outgroup advantageous condition, and neutral condition. In general, participants were more willing to accept the proposals in the ingroup advantageous condition than the outgroup advantageous or the neutral conditions, and also in the moderate inequality than the extreme inequality condition. This may indicate that people sought a careful balance between ingroup favoritism and fairness, although we also found marked individual differences in their preferences for ingroup favoritism or fairness. Importantly, as predicted, participants were more likely to show ingroup favoritism only when limited resources affect the well-being of ingroup members. The present study provides novel insights into the situational and personality factors affecting human intergroup behaviors, shedding light on motives underlying intergroup conflicts prevalent in human societies.
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These studies investigate the influence of adults’ explicit attention to commonalities of appearance on children's preference for individuals resembling themselves. Three findings emerged: (1) An adult's identification of 2 dolls’ respective similarity to and difference from the child led 3-year-olds to prefer the similar doll (Study 1, n = 32). (2) When the adult did not comment on similarity, children age 6 years but not younger preferred physically similar individuals (Study 2, n = 68), suggesting that a spontaneous preference for physically similar others does not emerge before school age. (3) Four- but not 3-year-olds generalized an adult's pedagogical cues about similarity, leading them to prefer a self-resembling doll in a new context (Study 3, n = 80). These findings collectively suggest that the preference for individuals resembling ourselves develops through a process of internalizing adults’ attention to, and messages about, similarities of appearance. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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A dominant theme in the story of the American, city‐on‐a‐hill experience is manifest destiny, a term literally expressing a sense of a rightful, westward expansion across the continent in the late 19th century, but more broadly expressing a general entitlement granted, it is often understood, divinely to an exceptional United States of America. The origins, the political‐versus‐religious undergirding, and the implications of manifest destiny are widely discussed in the literature. Here I focus on three primary texts by John Winthrop, John O'Sullivan, and George W. Bush to argue that, even though Winthrop's and his fellow Puritan immigrants' understanding of their role in the new land was a far cry from that of O'Sullivan—who coined the term “manifest destiny” – the seeds of manifest destiny were brought with these first immigrants to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, later sprouting and blossoming in O'Sullivan's coining, and eventually bearing some of its many fruits Bush's foreign policy. Finally, I will discuss the sociological and other implications of the divine endorsement of such ideas.
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Many species of animals form social allegiances to enhance survival. Across disciplines, researchers have suggested that allegiances form to facilitate within group cooperation and defend each other against rival groups. Here, we explore humans' reasoning about social allegiances and obligations beginning in infancy, long before they have experience with intergroup conflict. In Experiments 1 and 2, we demonstrate that infants (17–19 months, and 9–13 months, respectively) expect a social ally to intervene and provide aid during an episode of intergroup conflict. Experiment 3 conceptually replicated the results of Experiments 1 and 2. Together, this set of experiments reveals that humans' understanding of social obligation and loyalty may be innate, and supported by infants' naïve sociology.
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Factors that make stories more or less similar to children’s lives may influence learning. One such factor, the similarity of characters in a story to its readers, may influence learning because of children’s social preference for similar others, because of stronger identification with similar characters, or because some types of similarity may indicate to children whether the story is relevant to their lives. The current studies examined the effects of two types of character similarity (race and gender) on 6- to 8-year-olds’ learning from stories to begin to disambiguate these possibilities. In Study 1, White children demonstrated greater learning on implicit measures (i.e., free recall) from a story with a White character versus a Black character. Although children said that they were more similar to and identified more strongly with a White character than a Black character, these factors did not predict learning. In Study 2, character gender did not influence learning or identification. Children showed preferences for own-race and own-gender playmates, but these preferences did not predict learning. These findings suggest that White children’s greater learning from the White character was not due to social preference for similar others or to stronger identification with the White character. One explanation for the divergent findings for race and gender is that, because of the differing roles of race and gender within U.S. society, children may use race but not gender as a cue as to whether the information provided in a story is relevant for them.
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Despite the rise in prevalence of voice-activated smart devices and their potential to influence how young children learn about the world, we know little about how children interact with and learn from these devices. In the current study, 5- to 6-year-old children (n=30) were asked whether they wanted to learn more information about a series of obscure animals from an Amazon Echo or a human confederate. After informants gave contradictory answers, participants were asked whose information they trusted. Children significantly preferred to request information from the Amazon Echo but showed no preference with regards to whose information they endorsed. Furthermore, performance was not affected by technology experience. While children enjoy interacting with smart devices, they may not believe the information that they receive.
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How do humans intuitively understand the structure of their society? How should psychologists study people's commonsense understanding of societal structure? The present chapter seeks to address both of these questions by describing the domain of “intuitive sociology.” Drawing primarily from empirical research focused on how young children represent and reason about social groups, we propose that intuitive sociology consists of three core phenomena: social types (the identification of relevant groups and their attributes); social value (the worth of different groups); and social norms (shared expectations for how groups ought to be). After articulating each component of intuitive sociology, we end the chapter by considering both the emergence of intuitive sociology in infancy as well as transitions from intuitive to reflective representations of sociology later in life.
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Four experiments examined Canadian 2‐ to 3‐year‐old children’s (N = 224; 104 girls, 120 boys) thoughts about shared preferences. Children saw sets of items, and identified theirs and another person’s preferences. Children expected that food preferences would be more likely to be shared than color preferences, regardless of whether the items were similar or different in appeal (Experiments 1–3). A final study replicated these findings while also exploring children’s expectations about activity and animal preferences. Across all studies, children expected shared preferences at surprisingly low rates (never higher than chance). Overall, these findings suggest that young children understand that some preferences are more subjective than others, and that these expectations are driven by beliefs about domains of preferences.
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This chapter highlights current research on the problem of prejudice among children, adolescents, and adults. Its manifestations, developmental patterns, health consequences, and solutions are discussed. A substantial body of evidence documents that prejudice persists in myriad forms among children, youth, and adults despite widely accepted norms regarding diversity and equality. Intergroup bias has early roots and children's attitudes are deeply responsive to their social environments. People who are targeted by prejudice are at an elevated risk for a host of mental and physical health challenges for both structural and psychological reasons. Interventions to promote intergroup respect among children and those professionals who work with them are reviewed. There is qualified support for the use of carefully structured intergroup contact, diversity and anti-bias education, cognitive practices, and more general supports for personal and community health. To be most effective, these initiatives need to be coupled with social justice work and implemented by those who themselves appreciate equity and diversity. Parents and professionals who work with children have an opportunity to harness and cultivate their early prosocial leanings before the roots prejudice take hold. Finally, some of the initiatives to challenge prejudice and promote respect backed by psychological research are compatible with supports for public health more broadly.
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Homophily structures human social networks: people tend to seek out or be attracted to those who share their preferences or values, and to generally expect social connections between similar people. Here, we probe the nature and extent of infants' homophilic thinking by asking whether infants can use information about other people's shared preferences in the absence of other socially relevant behaviors (e.g., their proximity or joint attention) to infer their affiliation. To do so, we present infants with scenarios in which two people either share a preference or have opposing preferences while varying (across studies) the degree to which those people engage in other socially relevant behaviors. We show that by 14 months of age, infants demonstrate clear inferences of homophily: they expect two people with a shared preference to be more likely to affiliate than two people without such similarity, even in the absence of other social behaviors that signal friendship. Although such cognition begins to emerge by 6-months, younger infants' inferences are bolstered by social behaviors that signal friendship. Thus, an abstract understanding that homophily guides third-party affiliation has its roots in the second year of life, and potentially earlier.
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Understanding what infants know about social life is a growing enterprise. Indeed, one of the most exciting developments within psychological science over the past decade is the view that infants may come equipped with knowledge about “good” and “bad” and about “us” and “them.” At the heart of this view is a seminal set of studies indicating that infants prefer helpers to hinderers and similar to dissimilar others. What a growing number of researchers now believe is that these preferences may be based on innate (i.e., unlearned) social knowledge. In this article, I consider how decades of research in developmental psychology can lead to a different way to make sense of this popular body of work. As I make connections between old observations and new theorizing—and between classic findings and contemporary research—I consider how the same preferences that are thought to emanate from innate social knowledge may instead reflect social knowledge that infants can rapidly build as they pursue relationships with their caregivers. I offer this perspective with hopes that it will inspire future work that supports or questions the ideas sketched out here and, by doing so, will broaden an understanding of the origins of social knowledge.
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In the context of a study in social judgment, Ss were presented with eight stimulus persons, varying in attitude similarity (to S), physical attractiveness, and favorability as judged by others. Ss were asked to rate these persons on a measure of interpersonal attraction. It was hypothesized that attitude similarity would operate as an “open gate” in disposing the S to utilize the attractiveness and favorability information, whereas dissimilarity would reduce the impact of these cues. This hypothesis received fairly strong support. The Ss* agreement with traits attributed to the stimulus persons provided validity data for the attraction response, the form of the interaction effect again snowing greater utilization of additional stimulus information under conditions of similar, as opposed to dissimilar, stimulus persons.
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Contrasting predictions ofByrne's similarity-attraction hypothesis and Rosenbaum's dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis were tested with 7-, 11-, 15-, and 21-year-olds in Singapore. The study included a control condition of no-attitude information and two experimental conditions of similar and dissimilar attitudes. Measures of attraction, assumed similarity of attitudes, and accuracy in perceiving the manipulations were taken. The repulsion hypothesis was supported with the two younger groups; the attraction hypothesis was supported with the two older groups. The repulsion effect emerged because the two younger groups assumed a high level of attitudinal similarity in the control condition of no-attitude information and because they inaccurately perceived the manipulated similarity of attitudes in the experimental conditions. These results reaffirm the similarity-attraction hypothesis and further demonstrate the role of age-related cognitive processes in interpersonal attraction.
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The theory of social comparison processes suggests that individuals are attracted to each other on the basis of similarity in opinions, abilities, and emotional state. Generalizing further, attraction was hypothesized to be a function of similarity-dissimilarity in economic status. 84 Ss were divided into high and low economic status on the basis of their responses to items dealing with spending money. 3 experimental conditions were devised in which Ss evaluated a stranger on the basis of his or her responses to the economic and some attitudinal items. In 1 condition, low-status Ss responded to a high-status stranger; in a 2nd condition, high-status Ss responded to a low-status stranger; and in a 3rd condition, high- and low-status Ss responded to strangers similar to themselves. As hypothesized, attraction was significantly (p < .001) affected by similarity-dissimilarity of economic status. It was found that the specific responses of Ss could be predicted on the basis of a law of attraction formula derived in earlier work on attitude similarity-dissimilarity. An attempt was made to account for the findings in reinforcement terms. (33 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Examined the consequences of mate preferences for the processes of assortative mating and sexual selection. In Study 1, 92 married couples (aged 18–40 yrs) completed measures such as the California Psychological Inventory, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and Personal Attributes Questionnaire. Data were used to identify (a) the mate characteristics that were consensually more and less desired, (b) the mate characteristics that showed strong sex differences in their preferred value, (c) the degree to which married couples were correlated in selection preferences, and (d) the relations between expressed preferences and the personality and background characteristics of obtained spouses. Marital preference factors included Religious, Kind/Considerate, Artistic/Intelligent, and Easygoing/Adaptable. Study 2, with 100 unmarried undergraduates, replicated the sex differences and consensual ordering of mate preferences found in Study 1, using a different methodology. Alternative hypotheses are presented to account for the replicated sex differences in preferences for attractiveness and earning potential. (31 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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ABSTRACT Although personality characteristics figure prominently in what people want in a mate, little is known about precisely which personality characteristics are most important, whether men and women differ in their personality preferences, whether individual women or men differ in what they want, and whether individuals actually get what they want. To explore these issues, two parallel studies were conducted, one using a sample of dating couples (N= 118) and one using a sample of married couples (N= 216). The five-factor model, operationalized in adjectival form, was used to assess personality characteristics via three data sources—self-report, partner report, and independent interviewer reports. Participants evaluated on a parallel 40-item instrument their preferences for the ideal personality characteristics of their mates. Results were consistent across both studies. Women expressed a greater preference than men for a wide array of socially desirable personality traits. Individuals differed in which characteristics they desired, preferring mates who were similar to themselves and actually obtaining mates who embodied what they desired. Finally, the personality characteristics of one's partner significantly predicted marital and sexual dissatisfaction, most notably when the partner was lower on Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect-Openness than desired.
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This research examined reasons for the frequently obtained finding that members of numerically minority groups exhibit greater intergroup discrimination than members of majority groups and also sought to determine the conditions under which members of both majority and minority groups exhibit intergroup discrimination. Experiment 1 examined the role of group identification and found that discrimination by members of a majority group was equivalent to that of minority group members when identification was experimentally induced. Experiments 2 and 3 examined further the underlying bases for minority and majority discrimination. Consistent with predictions derived from optimal distinctiveness theory (12), identification with the in-group was found to be a necessary condition underlying intergroup discrimination, but motivations for discrimination varied as a function of satisfaction with in-group size and distinctiveness.
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Two studies examined the influence of similarity on 3-year-old children's initial liking of their peers. Children were presented with pairs of childlike puppets who were either similar or dissimilar to them on a specified dimension and then were asked to choose one of the puppets to play with as a measure of liking. Children selected the puppet whose food preferences or physical appearance matched their own. Unpacking the physical appearance finding revealed that the stable similarity of hair color may influence liking more strongly than the transient similarity of shirt color. A second study showed that children also prefer to play with a peer who shares their toy preferences, yet importantly, show no bias toward a peer who is similar on an arbitrary dimension. The findings provide insight into the earliest development of peer relations in young children.
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Although personality characteristics figure prominently in what people want in a mate, little is known about precisely which personality characteristics are most important, whether men and women differ in their personality preferences, whether individual women or men differ in what they want, and whether individuals actually get what they want. To explore these issues, two parallel studies were conducted, one using a sample of dating couples (N = 118) and one using a sample of married couples (N = 216). The five-factor model, operationalized in adjectival form, was used to assess personality characteristics via three data sources-self--report, partner report, and independent interviewer reports. Participants evaluated on a parallel 40-item instrument their preferences for the ideal personality characteristics of their mates. Results were consistent across both studies. Women expressed a greater preference than men for a wide array of socially desirable personality traits. Individuals differed in which characteristics they desired, preferring mates who were similar to themselves and actually obtaining mates who embodied what they desired. Finally, the personality characteristics of one's partner significantly predicted marital and sexual dissatisfaction, most notably when the partner was lower on Agreeableness, Emotional Stability, and Intellect-Openness than desired.
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Dissimilarity and similarity between attitudes of the participants and a stranger were manipulated across two sets of issues to test the attraction, repulsion and similarity-dissimilarity asymmetry hypotheses. Participants (N = 192) judged social (liking, enjoyment of company) and intellectual (intelligence, general knowledge) attractiveness of the stranger. The similarity in the first set of attitudes x similarity in the second set of attitudes effect emerged in social attraction, but not in intellectual attraction. Stated simply, dissimilarity had a greater weight than similarity in social attraction, but equal weight in intellectual attraction. These results support the similarity-dissimilarity asymmetry hypothesis that predicts dissimilarity-repulsion to be stronger than similarity-attraction. However, they reject (1) the attraction hypothesis that dissimilarity and similarity produce equal and opposite effects on social attraction; and (2) the repulsion hypothesis that only dissimilar attitudes affect social attraction by leading to repulsion. An equal weighting of dissimilarity and similarity in intellectual attraction further suggested that the similarity-dissimilarity asymmetry on social attraction is reflective of a stronger avoidance response in the Darwinian sense.
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A standard visual preference task was used to examine 3-month-olds' looking times at own-race versus other-race faces as a function of environmental exposure to faces from the two categories. Participants were Caucasian infants living in a Caucasian environment, African infants living in an African environment, and African infants living in a predominantly Caucasian environment. The results indicate that preference for own-race faces is present as early as 3 months of age, but that this preference results from exposure to the prototypical facial environment.
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Similarity of ego identity status, assessed by Marcia's four-category classification system, was related to interpersonal attraction. Using male and female college students as subjects, this study found that (1) while all judges preferred targets who had or who are undergoing a crisis to those who have not had a crisis, (2) diffuse judges preferred targets with no commitments to those with commitments, and (3) judges with commitments preferred a foreclosure target more than judges without commitments. Differential evaluations of the targets' intelligence, knowledge of current events, adjustment, and morality were also found. Results are discussed both in terms of previous research positively relating personality similarity to attraction and Erikson's theory of the relationship between ego identity development and intimacy in interpersonal relations.
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Reviews studies on prejudice and children focusing on how children learn prejudice and what can be done to prevent it. Offers three activity and discussion ideas which can be used to develop children's awareness of inappropriate prejudgments. Identifies a selection of related instructional resources and includes a 34-item bibliography. (JDH)
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This book presents a new theory of the social group which seeks to explain how individuals become unified into a group and capable of collective behaviour. The book summarizes classic psychological theories of the group, describes and explains the important effects of group membership on social behaviour, outlines self-categorization theory in full and shows how the general perspective has been applied in research on group formation and cohesion, social influence, the polarization of social attitudes, crowd psychology and social stereotyping. The theory emerges as a fundamental new contribution to social psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Experimental research on intergroup discrimination in favor of one's own group is reviewed in terms of the basis of differentiation between in-group and out-group and in terms of the response measure on which in-group bias is assessed. Results of the research reviewed suggest that (a) factors such as intergroup competition, similarity, and status differentials affect in-group bias indirectly by influencing the salience of distinctions between in-group and out-group, (b) the degree of intergroup differentiation on a particular response dimension is a joint function of the relevance of intergroup distinctions and the favorableness of the in-group's position on that dimension, and (c) the enhancement of in-group bias is more related to increased favoritism toward in-group members than to increased hostility toward out-group members. Implications of these results for positive applications of group identification (e.g., a shift of in-group bias research from inter- to intragroup contexts) are discussed. (67 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Using a ‘near minimal ’ group paradigm (see Taifel et al., 1971), this research tested whether the reasons people think about following group categorization can account for the magnitude of ingroup bias. College students were randomly assigned to four conditions. These conditions instructed subjects either to think about reasons for ingroup choice (‘ingroup’ condition), outgroup choice (‘outgroup’), to think about anything they wanted (‘basic’), or to think about distracting activities (‘distraction’). The hypothesized ordering of ingroup bias and polarized attitudes was: ingroup > basic > distraction > outgroup. The results support both hypotheses. The meaning of these results are discussed in relation to social identity theory and Billig's (1985) rhetorical approach to prejudice.
Article
Negotiations were conducted to investigate the effects on settlement-points andon the attitudes and perceptions of participants of (i) group participation and (ii)belief in own group's point of view, in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Ninety-six school children prepared cases in groups of four before representing their group's position against an individual of a similarly prepared opposed group. Group participation was manipulated by groups either participating in preparatory discussions or observing video films of another group's discussions. Belief was manipulated by systematically varying the composition of groups according to scores on a pre-test of attitudes towards the raising of the school-leaving age. In general the belief manipulation operated as expected, ‘believers’ exhibiting less variability, more tit-for-tat agreements and less opinion change than the ‘disbelievers’. Group participation did not influence the measures as predicted, and measures of interpersonal perception did not conform to the pattern of findings in recent experiments on intergroup discrimination. The results are discussed in terms of (i) their relevance to the issue of the appropriate relationship of the representative to his group in a negotiation and (ii) their implications for intergroup relations theory.
Article
This paper reports the results of a meta-analytic integration of the results of 137 tests of the ingroup bias hypothesis. Overall, the ingroup bias effect was highly significant and of moderate magnitude. Several theoretically informative determinants of the ingroup bias effect were established. This ingroup bias effect was significantly stronger when the ingroup was made salient (by virtue of proportionate size and by virtue of reality of the group categorization). A significant interaction between the reality of the group categorization and the relative status of the ingroup revealed a slight decrease in the ingroup bias effect as a function of status in real groups, and a significant increase in the ingroup bias effect as a function of status in artificial groups. Finally, an interaction between item relevance and ingroup status was observed, such that higher status groups exhibited more ingroup bias on more relevant attributes, whereas lower status groups exhibited more ingroup bias on less relevant attributes. Discussion considers the implications of these results for current theory and future research involving the ingroup bias effect.
Article
These studies investigate whether group salience contributes to the greater in-group favouritism expressed by numerical minorities after intergroup cooperation, as compared with majorities. In Study 1, using real social categories, situationally heightened salience exacerbated bias only among numerical minorities. Using real social categories, Study 2 confirmed the predicted effect of numerical representation on a measure of group salience as well as measures of anxiety and cohesion. Study 3 created artificial groups of equal and unequal size. In this study, compared to majority status, numerical minority status induced stronger perceptions of in-group salience and cohesion as well as greater in-group bias. Moreover, a regression analysis supported the prediction that salience mediates greater in-group positivity among numerical minorities.
Article
Intergroup attitudes were assessed in 7 and 10 years old European American and African American children from ethnically heterogeneous schools and in 7 and 10 years old European American children from ethnically homogeneous schools in order to test hypotheses about racial biases and judgments regarding cross-race peer interactions (N = 302). Using an Ambiguous Situations Task, the findings revealed that European American children attending homogeneous schools displayed racial bias in their interpretations of ambiguous situations as well as in their evaluations of cross-race friendship. Bias was not found, however, in the interpretations and evaluations of European American or African American children from heterogeneous schools. This study is the first to empirically demonstrate significant and direct relationships between intergroup contact in the school environment and children's intergroup biases as well as judgments about the potential for cross-race friendships. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
The study was designed to test several hypotheses derived from intergroup theory concerning the effects of the presence of a novel social category on the formation of intergroup attitudes. Elementary school children (N = 61; aged 6–9) were given measures of classification skill and self-esteem and assigned to 1 of 3 types of school classrooms in which teachers made: (1) functional use of “blue” and “yellow” groups assigned on the basis of a biological attribute, (2) functional use of “blue” and “yellow” groups assigned on the basis of a random drawing, or (3) no explicit groups (despite the presence of blue and yellow groups). After 4 weeks, children completed measures of intergroup attitudes and behavior. As predicted, the functional use of color groups affected children's attitudes toward group members, with children showing consistent biases favoring their own group. Children with higher levels of self-esteem showed higher levels of intergroup stereotyping.
Article
Implicit attitudes and explicit attitudes toward men and women and toward male soldiers and female soldiers were assessed in fifth-graders (28 male, 31 female) and college students (43 male, 42 female). Women were rated more positively than men on an explicit attitude measure. Similarly, female soldiers were rated more positively than male soldiers, except among college men, who were pro-male soldier. Different results emerged from an Implicit Association Test using names of men and women (general gender condition) or of male soldiers and female soldiers (soldier name condition). Latencies indicated pro-female attitudes in the soldier name condition and among women and college students. Error rates also indicated pro-female attitudes, except for a pro-male preference among men in the general gender condition. Reasons that implicit and explicit attitude measures may produce such divergent results are discussed.
Article
Allport (1954) recognized that attachment to one's ingroups does not necessarily require hostility toward outgroups. Yet the prevailing approach to the study of ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, and prejudice presumes that ingroup love and outgroup hate are reciprocally related. Findings from both cross-cultural research and laboratory experiments support the alternative view that ingroup identification is independent of negative attitudes toward outgroups and that much ingroup bias and intergroup discrimination is motivated by preferential treatment of ingroup members rather than direct hostility toward outgroup members. Thus to understand the roots of prejudice and discrimination requires first of all a better understanding of the functions that ingroup formation and identification serve for human beings. This article reviews research and theory on the motivations for maintenance of ingroup boundaries and the implications of ingroup boundary protection for intergroup relations, conflict, and conflict prevention.
Article
The aim of the studies was to assess the effefcs of social categorization on intergroup behaviour when, in the intergroup situation, neither calculations of individual interest nor previously existing attitudes of hostility could have been said to have determined discriminative behaviour against an outgroup. These conditions were satisfied in the experimental design. In the first series of experiments, it was found that the subjects favoured their own group in the distribution of real rewards and penalities in a situation in which nothing but the variable of fairly irrelevant classification distinguished between the ingroup and the outgroup. In the second series of experiments it was found that: 1) maximum joint profit independent of group membership did not affect significantly the manner in which the subjects divided real pecuniary rewards; 2) maximum profit for own group did affect the distribution of rewards; 3) the clearest effect on the distribution of rewards was due to the subjects' attempt to achieve a maximum difference between the ingroup and the outgroup even at the price of sacrificing other ‘objective’ advantages.The design and the results of the study are theoretically discussed within the framework of social norms and expectations and particularly in relation to a ‘generic’ norm of outgroup behaviour prevalent in some societies.
Article
Previous studies have failed to find support for the hypothesis, derived from Level of Aspiration Theory, that individuals chose to date those whose “social desirability” level is similar to their own. In the present experiments, which were designed to test the matching hypothesis, the salience of possible rejection by the dating choice was varied. Both experiments found support for the principle of matching in social choice. This support was obtained, however, not just under conditions in which rejection was presumably salient but for all conditions of choice. This and additional findings were discussed.
Article
The effect of the group on the individual is considered from the perspective of self-attention theory. It is proposed that group members will become more self-attentive, and thus become more concerned with matching to standards of appropriate behavior, as the relative size of their subgroup decreases. A simple algorithm, termed the Other-Total Ratio, is presented which numerically describes this effect of the group on the individual. An analysis of group effects on individuals' self-attention supports this perspective, as do analyses of the results of 42 previous studies in four other areas (conformity, prosocial behavior, social loafing, and antisocial behavior). This orientation to the effect of the group on the individual is linked to recent developments in self-attention theory and compared to Latané's social impact theory.
Article
As adults, we know that others' mental states, such as beliefs, guide their behavior and that these mental states can deviate from reality. Researchers have examined whether young children possess adult-like theory of mind by focusing on their understanding about others' false beliefs. The present research revealed that 10-month-old infants seemed to interpret a person's choice of toys based on her true or false beliefs about which toys were present. These results indicate that like adults, even preverbal infants act as if they can consider others' mental states when making inferences about others' actions.
Article
Three experiments (total N=140) tested the hypothesis that 5-year-old children's membership in randomly assigned "minimal" groups would be sufficient to induce intergroup bias. Children were randomly assigned to groups and engaged in tasks involving judgments of unfamiliar in-group or out-group children. Despite an absence of information regarding the relative status of groups or any competitive context, in-group preferences were observed on explicit and implicit measures of attitude and resource allocation (Experiment 1), behavioral attribution, and expectations of reciprocity, with preferences persisting when groups were not described via a noun label (Experiment 2). In addition, children systematically distorted incoming information by preferentially encoding positive information about in-group members (Experiment 3). Implications for the developmental origins of intergroup bias are discussed.
Article
Human social interactions crucially depend on the ability to represent other agents' beliefs even when these contradict our own beliefs, leading to the potentially complex problem of simultaneously holding two conflicting representations in mind. Here, we show that adults and 7-month-olds automatically encode others' beliefs, and that, surprisingly, others' beliefs have similar effects as the participants' own beliefs. In a visual object detection task, participants' beliefs and the beliefs of an agent (whose beliefs were irrelevant to performing the task) both modulated adults' reaction times and infants' looking times. Moreover, the agent's beliefs influenced participants' behavior even after the agent had left the scene, suggesting that participants computed the agent's beliefs online and sustained them, possibly for future predictions about the agent's behavior. Hence, the mere presence of an agent automatically triggers powerful processes of belief computation that may be part of a "social sense" crucial to human societies.
Article
The study was designed to test several hypotheses derived from intergroup theory concerning the effects of the presence of a novel social category on the formation of intergroup attitudes. Elementary school children (N = 61; aged 6-9) were given measures of classification skill and self-esteem and assigned to 1 of 3 types of school classrooms in which teachers made: (1) functional use of "blue" and "yellow" groups assigned on the basis of a biological attribute, (2) functional use of "blue" and "yellow" groups assigned on the basis of a random drawing, or (3) no explicit groups (despite the presence of blue and yellow groups). After 4 weeks, children completed measures of intergroup attitudes and behavior. As predicted, the functional use of color groups affected children's attitudes toward group members, with children showing consistent biases favoring their own group. Children with higher levels of self-esteem showed higher levels of intergroup stereotyping.
Article
This study was designed to examine whether the presence of implicit links between social groups and high versus low status attributes affects the formation of intergroup attitudes. Elementary school children aged 7 to 12 years (N = 91) were given measures of classification skill and self-esteem, and assigned to one of three types of summer school classrooms in which teachers made (1) functional use of novel ("blue" and "yellow") social groups that were depicted via posters as varying in status, (2) no explicit use of novel social groups that were, nonetheless, depicted as varying in status, or (3) functional use of novel social groups in the absence of information about status. After 6 weeks, children completed measures of intergroup attitudes. Results indicated that children's intergroup attitudes were affected by the status manipulation when teachers made functional use of the novel groups. Children who were members of high-status (but not low-status) groups developed in-group biased attitudes.
Article
Little is known about whether personality characteristics influence initial attraction. Because adult attachment differences influence a broad range of relationship processes, the authors examined their role in 3 experimental attraction studies. The authors tested four major attraction hypotheses--self similarity, ideal-self similarity, complementarity, and attachment security--and examined both actual and perceptual factors. Replicated analyses across samples, designs, and manipulations showed that actual security and self similarity predicted attraction. With regard to perceptual factors, ideal similarity, self similarity, and security all were significant predictors. Whereas perceptual ideal and self similarity had incremental predictive power, perceptual security's effects were subsumed by perceptual ideal similarity. Perceptual self similarity fully mediated actual attachment similarity effects, whereas ideal similarity was only a partial mediator.
Article
A humor test composed of cartoons, comic strips, and jokes was administered to 30 college couples (26 single, 4 married) who rated them for humor. Subjects also stated how much they loved and liked their partner, their probability of marrying the partner, and filled out Rubin's Liking and Love Scales. The hypotheses were that similarity of rating of the humorous stimuli would be associated with loving, liking, and predisposition to marry. Hypotheses were confirmed.
Article
To understand the origin and development of implicit attitudes, we measured race attitudes in White American 6-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and adults by first developing a child-oriented version of the Implicit Association Test (Child IAT). Remarkably, implicit pro-White/anti-Black bias was evident even in the youngest group, with self-reported attitudes revealing bias in the same direction. In 10-year-olds and adults, the same magnitude of implicit race bias was observed, although self-reported race attitudes became substantially less biased in older children and vanished entirely in adults, who self-reported equally favorable attitudes toward Whites and Blacks. These data are the first to show an asymmetry in the development of implicit and explicit race attitudes, with explicit attitudes becoming more egalitarian and implicit attitudes remaining stable and favoring the in-group across development. We offer a tentative suggestion that mean levels of implicit and explicit attitudes diverge around age 10.
Article
This study was designed to examine the effects of adults' labeling and use of social groups on preschool children's intergroup attitudes. Children (N=87, aged 3-5) attending day care were given measures of classification skill and self-esteem and assigned to membership in a novel ("red" or "blue") social group. In experimental classrooms, teachers used the color groups to label children and organize the classroom. In control classrooms, teachers ignored the color groups. After 3 weeks, children completed multiple measures of intergroup attitudes. Results indicated that children in both types of classrooms developed ingroup-biased attitudes. As expected, children in experimental classrooms showed greater ingroup bias on some measures than children in control classrooms.
Article
What leads humans to divide the social world into groups, preferring their own group and disfavoring others? Experiments with infants and young children suggest these tendencies are based on predispositions that emerge early in life and depend, in part, on natural language. Young infants prefer to look at a person who previously spoke their native language. Older infants preferentially accept toys from native-language speakers, and preschool children preferentially select native-language speakers as friends. Variations in accent are sufficient to evoke these social preferences, which are observed in infants before they produce or comprehend speech and are exhibited by children even when they comprehend the foreign-accented speech. Early-developing preferences for native-language speakers may serve as a foundation for later-developing preferences and conflicts among social groups. • cognitive development
Article
Challenging the view that implicit social cognition emerges from protracted social learning, research now suggests that intergroup preferences are present at adultlike levels in early childhood. Specifically, the pattern of developmental emergence of implicit attitudes is characterized by (i) rapidly emerging implicit preferences for ingroups and dominant groups and (ii) stability of these preferences across development. Together these findings demonstrate that implicit intergroup preferences follow a developmental course distinct from explicit intergroup preferences. In addition these results cast doubt on 'slow-learning' models of implicit social cognition according to which children should converge on adult forms of social cognition only as statistical regularities are internalized over a lengthy period of development.
Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The robbers cave experiment
  • M Sherif
  • O J Harvey
  • B J White
  • W R Hood
  • C W Sherif
Sherif, M., Harvey, O. J., White, B. J., Hood, W. R., & Sherif, C. W. (1954/ 1961). Intergroup conflict and cooperation: The robbers cave experiment. Norman, OK: University Book Exchange.
Does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Recent meta-analytic findings
  • T F Pettigrew
  • L R Tropp
Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2000). Does intergroup contact reduce prejudice? Recent meta-analytic findings. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Reducing prejudice and discrimination: The Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology (pp. 93-114). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Developmental Origins of Ingroup Bias: Early Attitudes Towards Similar and Dissimilar Others. Talk presented at the XVIIth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies Symposium: ''Infants' and Toddlers' Expectations About Social Groups
  • N Mahajan
  • K Wynn
Mahajan, N., & Wynn, K. (2010). Developmental Origins of Ingroup Bias: Early Attitudes Towards Similar and Dissimilar Others. Talk presented at the XVIIth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies Symposium: ''Infants' and Toddlers' Expectations About Social Groups,'' Baltimore, MD.
Cognitive factors affecting the success of intergroup contact
  • D A Wilder
Wilder, D. A. (1986). Cognitive factors affecting the success of intergroup contact. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Intergroup relations (pp. 49-66). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
Interpersonal attraction
  • E Berscheid
  • E H Walster
Berscheid, E., & Walster, E. H. (1969). Interpersonal attraction. Addison-Wesley Publishing.