Provocative new research from Germany suggests this problematic psychological process—which underpins racism, extreme nationalism, and prejudice of all sorts—kicks in somewhere around age seven. Love for one’s own group and hatred for perceived outsiders are separate attitudes that emerge at different stages of a child’s development, according to University of Erfurt researchers David Buttelmann and Robert Böhm.
Paper: The Ontogeny of the Motivation That Underlies In-Group Bias
Humans demonstrate a clear bias toward members of their own group over members of other groups in a variety of ways. It has been argued that the motivation underlying this in-group bias in adults may be favoritism toward one’s own group (in-group love), derogation of the out-group (out-group hate), or both. Although some studies have demonstrated in-group bias among children and infants, nothing is known about the underlying motivations of this bias. Using a novel game, we found that in-group love is already present in children of preschool age and can motivate in-group-biased behavior across childhood. In contrast, out-group hate develops only after a child’s sixth birthday and is a sufficient motivation for in-group-biased behavior from school age onward. These results help to better identify the motivation that underlies in-group-biased behavior in children.Read full pdf publication: The Ontogeny of the Motivation That Underlies In-Group Bias