Can babies be racist?

Babies are generally thought of as pure, innocent creatures who view everyone pretty much equally. But in actuality, a new study says that kids can actually start differentiating between races before they even reach their first birthday!

Recent research has shown that by nine months, babies' brains are better at identifying the faces and emotional expressions of people who are in the same racial group as them. Scientists examined 48 Caucasian babies who had little or no interaction with black people and then tested their ability to differentiate between people from their own race and people from another race.  They discovered that nine-month-old infants show less ability to distinguish two faces within another race and to match the emotion with the expressions of individuals from other races.


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As young kids develop, they begin to acknowledge the importance of certain factors, like family members, and focus on that. It's similar to the way they learn languages --though the super young can't distinguish the sounds of one language from the sounds of another, older kids who've begun to learn their own language can begin to differentiate sounds within their native language and their ability to do the same thing in other languages decreases.

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Personally, I find the study truly fascinating, not to mention extremely important. It reminds us of the importance of introducing diversity into our kids' lives at an extremely early age. The more young children are exposed to different cultures, races, languages, (hey, bilingualism is practically required these days), the less likely it is that they'll become "specialized" in one specific race, surrounding or culture as the study suggests. Instead, their brains will be able to develop a much more generalized and equalized understanding of the things they see and hear --which could also help them be more open in the future!

What do you think of the study? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: child rearing  bicultural baby  how to parent  multicultural kids  on parenting


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on May 4, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I completely disagree with the author. With all due respect, I think that if this is completely true we should remind our children that keeping OUR bloodline as clean and untainted as possible, is KEY to our future. I feel it is a disgrace for people to marry outside their own ethnicity. It is a complete disgrace to completely disregard how precious our blood REALLY is.
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on May 4, 2012 at 1:01 PM

No, God did not create us like this. Prejudice is learned behavior. The baby might react or recognize a difference in skin color but that is it and that is normal.

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