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Developing Cognitions about Race: White 5‐ to 10‐Year‐Olds’ Perceptions of Hardship and Pain

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European Journal of Social Psychology

Published online on

Abstract

White American adults assume Blacks feel less pain than do Whites, but only if they believe Blacks have faced greater economic hardship than Whites. The current study investigates when in development children first recognize racial group differences in economic hardship, and examines whether perceptions of hardship inform children's racial bias in pain perception. Five‐ to ten‐year‐olds (N = 178) guessed which of two items (low‐ vs. high‐value) belonged to a Black and a White child, and rated the amount of pain a Black and a White child would feel in 10 painful situations. By age 5, White American children attributed lower value possessions to Blacks than Whites, indicating a recognition of racial group differences in economic hardship. The results also replicated the emergence of a racial bias in pain perception between 5 and 10. However, unlike adults’, children's perceptions of hardship do not account for racial bias in pain perception.