A growing body of research finds that young children will prefer members of their own social group at the expense of others, even when groups are constructed artificially (Dunham, Baron, & Carey, 2011). Given the prevalence of this bias, as well as its connections to more negative consequences such as stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination, a better understanding of how and why this bias is expressed has both theoretical and applied implications for cognitive development. This thesis presents a series of studies in which we examine how young children’s in-group bias might be attenuated in the presence of information that competes with group status, how its expression may vary depending on the nature of the measure, and how it relates to other social-cognitive processes, such as hostile attribution biases. Study 1 investigates the impact of moral behavior, both positive and negative, on reducing children’s in-group bias by presenting stimuli in which group status and moral information conflict (Hetherington, Hendrickson, & Koenig, 2014). Study 2 explores the relationship between social information processing (SIP; Crick & Dodge, 1994) and in-group biases by measuring children’s interpretation of ambiguous social situations involving in- and out-group members. Finally, the aim of Study 3 was to measure the impact of explicit in-group aggression, either instrumental or relational, in reducing the expression of children’s in- group bias. Together, these studies present findings that provide further information about the nuanced underpinnings of group biases in early childhood.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.August 2016. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Melissa Koenig. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 92 pages.
Intergroup Cognition, Aggression, and Social Information Processing in Early Childhood.
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