University of Delaware study: Study Suggests Children’s Racial Stereotyping Can Be Reversed

10 Sep

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity; one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 and http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/national/class/OVERVIEW-FINAL.html

Sarah Garland wrote in the Atlantic article, When Class Became More Important to a Child’s Education Than Race:

On a weekday afternoon in July, Jessica Klaitman pulled her 16-month-old daughter Hannah out of a stroller in the lobby of the New York Kids Club, a “child-enrichment center” with four classrooms, a dance studio, and gym space in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.
Hannah was sleepy after a nap, but her face lit up as she was let loose with several other toddlers and their nannies. She grabbed some blocks and then headed to a table stocked with piles of a pink, play-dough-like sculpting material. For 45 minutes, the children wandered around wielding dolls and blocks, grabbing at each others’ toys and taking turns on a miniature slide. When time was up, they sang along with the “Clean-Up Song” and helped put away the mess.

A drop-in class at the New York Kids Club costs about $47, according to an employee. Hannah’s playgroup that day was free, but only because Klaitman, 40, and her husband, Jordan Small, 39, have enrolled their three children in package deals for classes in karate and preschool–which run about $650 per child for 17 once-a-week sessions. Klaitman estimates she’s dropped thousands of dollars at the club over the years, not to mention what she spends on the private preschool her oldest son attends, additional classes in Spanish and music elsewhere, and the family’s museum memberships.

The Klaitman-Smalls’ considerable investment in their children is becoming the norm for families like theirs who are in the top tiers of the country’s income distribution. The resources the affluent are pouring into their children are also driving a growing divide between academic outcomes of the children of the well-to-do and those of everyone else’s kids. That widening academic divide means that kids who are born poor and kids who are born rich are increasingly likely to stay that way once they reach adulthood….
Researchers say the expanding class gap in education is likely a byproduct of the country’s widening income inequality. There’s been an explosion in spending by well-to-do parents on their children: The amount has more than doubled in the last 30 years, according to work by Columbia University School of Social Work researchers Neeraj Kaushal and Jane Waldfogel and Katherine Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin.
Parents in the top quintile of income in the U.S. (households earning at least $102,000 in 2011, according to census data compiled by the Tax Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group) now spend more than double what parents in the second quintile (earning at least $62,000) spend on trips for their children-about $2,000 per year compared with $800, the Kaushal study found. They also spend significantly more on childcare, computers, books, and private-school tuition than their non-wealthy peers…. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/08/when-class-became-more-important-to-a-childs-education-than-race/279064/
See, How do upper-class parents prepare their kids for success in the world? http://sandiegoeducationreport.org/talkingtokids.html

Moi wrote about the intersection of race and class in Michael Petrilli’s decision: An ed reformer confronts race and class when choosing a school for his kids. It is worth reviewing that post. https://drwilda.com/tag/class-segregation/ Lindsey Layton wrote in the Washington Post article, Schools dilemma for gentrifiers: Keep their kids urban, or move to suburbia?

When his oldest son reached school age, Michael Petrilli faced a dilemma known to many middle-class parents living in cities they helped gentrify: Should the family flee to the homogenous suburbs for excellent schools or stay urban for diverse but often struggling schools?

Petrilli, who lived in Takoma Park with his wife and two sons, was torn, but he knew more than most people about the choice before him. Petrilli is an education expert, a former official in the Education Department under George W. Bush and executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education think tank.
He set out to learn as much as he could about the risks and benefits of socioeconomically diverse schools, where at least 20 percent of students are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. And then he wrote about it….

Petrilli said he wanted his son to have friends from all backgrounds because he believes that cultural literacy will prepare him for success in a global society.
But he worried that his son might get lost in a classroom that has a high percentage of poor children, that teachers would be focused on the struggling children and have less time for their more privileged peers.

As Petrilli points out in the book, this dilemma doesn’t exist for most white, middle-class families. The vast majority — 87 percent — of white students attend majority white schools, Petrilli says, even though they make up just about 50 percent of the public school population.

And even in urban areas with significant African American and Latino populations, neighborhood schools still tend to be segregated by class, if not by race. In the Washington region, less than 3 percent of white public school students attend schools where poor children are the majority, according to Petrilli.
Gentrification poses new opportunities for policymakers to desegregate schools, Petrilli argues….

In the end, Petrilli moved from his Takoma Park neighborhood school — diverse Piney Branch Elementary, which is 33 percent low-income — to Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda, where 1 percent of the children are low-income, 2 percent are black and 5 percent are Hispanic. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/schools-dilemma-for-urban-gentrifiers-keep-their-kids-urban-or-move-to-suburbia/2012/10/14/02083b6c-131b-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html

A University of Delaware study examines race perception.

Education News reported in Study Suggests Children’s Racial Stereotyping Can Be Reversed:

New research out of the University of Delaware has found that infants can be trained to undo the unconscious racial biases they were previously found to hold.

The findings come as part of an ongoing multi-country collaboration that has been conducted by Paul Quinn, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University, for the last 10 years through the help of a National Institutes of Health grant. Working with researchers from Canada, France and China, the team has been exploring the ability of infants to categorize faces by race and gender.

Noting the amount of time that infants spent looking at photos of faces, Quinn observed that beginning at 3 months of age, children tend to prefer photos of faces that they typically see more often in their daily lives. In particular, babies enjoyed looking at photos of females who were of the same race as themselves.

As the infants approached 9 months of age, they could not only determine different racial categories, but also were less able to distinguish between individuals of lesser-known races. One example found Caucasian infants being able to clearly identify Caucasian faces, but not as likely to see Asian or African faces, reports Ellie Zolfagharifard for The Daily Mail.

“Our original thinking about the 9-month-old findings was that this process that we call ‘narrowing’ is based on visual perception, not any social bias,” Quinn said. “But then the question we asked was: Might these perceptual biases we see in infants be related to the social biases that we see in older kids, beginning at 3 or 4 years of age, and adults?

“And if they are, can we use a technique to reduce bias? As we tried to answer this question, we hit on the idea that if the perceptual and social biases are linked, we might be able to reduce the social bias by perceptual means.”
For the new study, scientists in China combined photos of Asian faces with that of African faces to make one single race. Some of the photos showed smiling individuals while other faces looked angrier. The images were then showed to groups of 4 and 6 year olds who identified the smiling faces as Asian and the severe faces as African, a group of people they were not used to seeing….

Quinn added that further research is needed to determine how long the effects last.
– See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/parenting/study-suggests-childrens-racial-stereotyping-can-be-reversed/#sthash.gnsep0nC.dpuf

Citation:

Individuation training with other-race faces reduces preschoolers’ implicit racial bias: a link between perceptual and social representation of faces in children
1. Wen S. Xiao1,2,
2. Genyue Fu1,
3. Paul C. Quinn3,
4. Jinliang Qin1,
5. James W. Tanaka4,
6. Olivier Pascalis5 and
7. Kang Lee1,2,*
Article first published online: 5 OCT 2014
DOI: 10.1111/desc.12241
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Issue
Developmental Science
Volume 18, Issue 4, pages 655–663, July 2015

• Abstract
• Article
• References
• Cited By
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Abstract
The present study examined whether perceptual individuation training with other-race faces could reduce preschool children’s implicit racial bias. We used an ‘angry = outgroup’ paradigm to measure Chinese children’s implicit racial bias against African individuals before and after training. In Experiment 1, children between 4 and 6 years were presented with angry or happy racially ambiguous faces that were morphed between Chinese and African faces. Initially, Chinese children demonstrated implicit racial bias: they categorized happy racially ambiguous faces as own-race (Chinese) and angry racially ambiguous faces as other-race (African). Then, the children participated in a training session where they learned to individuate African faces. Children’s implicit racial bias was significantly reduced after training relative to that before training. Experiment 2 used the same procedure as Experiment 1, except that Chinese children were trained with own-race Chinese faces. These children did not display a significant reduction in implicit racial bias. Our results demonstrate that early implicit racial bias can be reduced by presenting children with other-race face individuation training, and support a linkage between perceptual and social representations of face information in children.
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Here is the press release from the University of Delaware:

New research finds a way to reverse children’s racial stereotyping

August 25, 2015 by Ann Manser

Lillian May Clark sits on the lap of her mother, Kimberly Clark, and looks at images of faces being shown to her by undergraduate research assistant Jennie Lowe. Credit: Evan Krape
New research by a University of Delaware psychological scientist and his collaborators across the globe has found a simple exercise that can undo the unconscious racial biases that young children have—biases that may begin to develop as early as infancy.

The findings are part of an ongoing, multi-country collaboration that has been conducted by Paul Quinn, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UD, for more than a decade. Funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, Quinn works with researchers in Canada, France and China to explore how infants mentally classify faces by race and gender. This research has recently received attention in the New York Times and the Guardian.

Using an established technique of measuring how much time the babies spend looking at pictures of faces, Quinn has learned that 3-month-olds begin showing a visual preference for the categories—generally, female and the same race as themselves—that they see most often in their daily lives.
By 9 months of age, infants not only distinguish racial categories but also become less able to tell different individuals apart if they are members of a less-familiar race. For example, Caucasian infants can identify Caucasian faces as belonging to different individuals, but they are less likely to see Asian or African faces as distinct individuals.

“Our original thinking about the 9-month-old findings was that this process that we call ‘narrowing’ is based on visual perception, not any social bias,” Quinn said. “But then the question we asked was: Might these perceptual biases we see in infants be related to the social biases that we see in older kids, beginning at 3 or 4 years of age, and adults?

“And if they are, can we use a technique to reduce bias? As we tried to answer this question, we hit on the idea that if the perceptual and social biases are linked, we might be able to reduce the social bias by perceptual means.”

In this new study, published in July in the journal Developmental Science, Quinn and his collaborators in China used photos of African and Asian faces and morphed them together to create ambiguous images that looked equally African and Asian. Some of the faces had pleasant expressions, while others looked more severe.

When researchers showed the images to 4- to 6-year-olds in China, the children identified the happy faces as Asian—the category they were used to seeing—and the angry faces as African, a group they rarely saw in daily life.

The scientists’ next step was to see whether the children’s unconscious racial biases could be disrupted. They showed the youngsters five different African faces and gave each of the individuals a name, repeating the process until the children could identify each of the five faces by name.
When the children then looked at the happy and angry ambiguous-race photos again, their bias in favor of their own racial group had dropped significantly.

“This process of getting the kids to respond to the [five African] faces as individuals, not as a category, only takes 15-30 minutes, and it made a significant difference,” Quinn said. “It suggests that what is a social bias has [visual] perceptual components and that it can be disrupted.”

Many questions remain for further study, he said. Among them: After children go through the face-identification exercise and reduce their unconscious bias, how long does that effect last? Also, what aspect of the training is the critical ingredient? Is it mere exposure, or is it the act of individuation?
“This has caused us to rethink what’s going on” in the link between perception and social bias, Quinn said. “There are a number of avenues we want to explore.”

Research continues on infant perception

Another, related study that Quinn conducted in his lab at UD with babies from the Newark, Delaware, area has been published online by Developmental Science, with print publication expected in the future.
In this study, researchers worked with Caucasian babies to explore how and at what ages they began forming categories of people based on the racial characteristics of faces.
At 6 months, Quinn said, the infants were classifying faces into three groups—Caucasian, African and Asian. But just a few months later, they had grouped the African and Asian faces together into a single category.

“This was the surprise finding,” Quinn said. “At 9 months, they didn’t respond to the differences between the African and Asian categories, but instead they had two broad categories, ‘own race’ and ‘other race.’
“It doesn’t seem to matter to a Caucasian infant who has seen mostly Caucasian faces if a face is African or Asian. They only care that it’s not Caucasian. We think it might be a precursor to an initial ‘in group-out group’ differentiation of faces.
“This result suggests that perceptual and social proce ssing of faces may overlap even in infants.”
Again, the findings suggest other issues to explore. A current study is investigating whether infants have positive associations with faces of their own, familiar race and more negative associations with less familiar faces from other races.

All the research that Quinn and his collaborators have been conducting since their initial NIH grant in 2004 centers on category formation—a basic cognitive process in which very young babies begin mentally classifying objects and animals in a way that, for example, sets apart squares from triangles and cats from dogs. Extending that research to faces led to the findings that infants also categorize images of people by gender and race.

Explore further: Infants taught to maintain ability to distinguish between other-race groups

More information: “Individuation training with other-race faces reduces preschoolers’ implicit racial bias: a link between perceptual and social representation of faces in children.” Developmental Science, 18: 655–663. doi: 10.1111/desc.12241
Journal reference: Developmental Science

Often, schools are segregated by both race and class. Class identification is very important in education because of class and peer support for education achievement and the value placed on education by social class groups. Moi does not condemn Mr. Petrilli for doing what is best for his family because when the rubber meets the road that is what parents are supposed to do. His family’s situation is just an example of the intersection of race and class in education.

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