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A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Racial Stereotyping and Reconstructive Memory in Euro-American Children

Rebecca S. Bigler and Lynn S. Liben
Child Development
Vol. 64, No. 5 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1507-1518
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131549
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131549
Page Count: 12
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A Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Racial Stereotyping and Reconstructive Memory in Euro-American Children
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Abstract

To examine the role of cognitive skill and racial stereotyping in Euro-American children's processing of race-related information, 75 Euro-American children, aged 4-9 years, were asked to recall stories that were either consistent with or inconsistent with cultural racial stereotypes. In 6 trait stories, a Euro-American main character encounters both a Euro-American and an African American child. A negative trait is attributed to either the African American (stereotypic story) or the Euro-American child (counterstereotypic story). In 6 social relationship stories, main characters interact with neighbors, friends, or married couples, portrayed either intraracially (stereotypic) or interracially (counterstereotypic). Individual difference measures were used to assess subjects' racial stereotyping and their classification skill (ability to sort stimuli along multiple dimensions). As predicted, lower degrees of racial stereotyping and the ability to classify persons along multiple dimensions were associated with better memory for counterstereotypic stories. Implications for intervention programs aimed at reducing racial stereotyping are discussed.

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