In an interesting experiment conducted at the University of Chicago, children ages 5 and 6, were shown video images and vocal recordings of a child and two adults. The children were asked, “Which adult will the child grow up to be?” In the images shown to the children, one adult matched the racial appearance of the child. The other adult matched the language spoken by the child. In no instance did the adults match both the child’s language and racial appearance.
White children ages 5 and 6 were more likely to say the child in the video image would grow up to be the adult who spoke the same language rather than the adult who appeared to be of the same race. Katherine Kinzler, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and the lead author of the research article, stated language can be more important than race in guiding young white children’s social preferences for others.
But when African American children were given the same test, they tended to say that the child would grow up to be more like the adult of the same race rather than the adult who spoke the same language as the child. Jocelyn Dautel, a graduate student who is co-author of the study, said, “Children of different racial groups may have different experiences with race as a meaningful social category, which could contribute to their performance.”
For 10-year-old children given the same test, both Whites and Blacks tended to choose the adult who had the same racial appearance as the child.
The research was published in the journal Developmental Science.