Racial awareness in children



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The present study investigated the role of age, race, environment, and sex in the development of racial awareness and in particular of the development of the salience of racial cue differences to the child. Four, six, eight, and ten year old children were categorized according to sex, race (black and white), and school environments (segregated and integrated). Each of the subjects was asked to choose the 'most different' stimulus picture from three pictures varying simultaneously on two dimensions. Thus, each choice of age, race, sex, and extraneous cues were compared in this manner. The effect of age, race, sex, and school environment on the salience of various cues was investigated. Four main hypotheses were that (1) black children view racial differences with far more salience than do white children, (2) girls view racial differences with slightly more salience than do boys, (3) children of either race attending school in an integrated environment view racial differences with more salience than do children attending a segregated school, and (4) the younger child is less likely to differentiate between the important personal (identity) differences and impersonal differences than is the older child. Hypothesis 4 was confirmed. Hypotheses 1 and 2 were not confirmed. Although hypothesis 3 was not confirmed, results indicated a significant reverse relationship. The significance of these results, as well as others not directly related to a formal hypothesis are discussed and suggestions are made for future research.