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Researchers Claim: Babies Are Racist

Update Date: Apr 18, 2014 09:37 AM EDT
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Racism is a very heated and sensitive issue for many. Due to social stigmas about racism, cultures have tried hard to tear down racism by increasing education and awareness about different cultures. However, according to a new study, researchers are claiming that babies are already racist.

For this study, the researchers from the University of Washington recruited 15-month-old toddlers. The babies were instructed to watch two adults distribute four small toys between two other adults. One of the experimenters had distributed the toys evenly whereas the other did not. When the researchers asked the babies which experimenter they wanted to play with, 70 percent of them chose the fair experimenter.

The team then altered the scenario by changing the race of the adults who were receiving the toys. The researchers found that now, the majority of babies no longer cared about fairness. When the babies' race matched the race of the adult volunteer who received more toys than the other adult, 70 percent of the babies wanted to play with the unfair experimenter. The researchers concluded that when race did not play a huge factor, the babies cared more about fairness. However, once race entered the picture, the babies wanted to play with the person who favored their race.

"If all babies care about is fairness, they would always pick the fair distributor," said University of Washington associate professor psychology of Jessica Somerville reported by TIME. "But we're also seeing that they're interested in consequences for their own group members."

The researchers explained that this in-group bias, which could be viewed as racism, has helped cultures survive. In-group bias is the concept that people within one's own clan will help the survival rates of the clan by nurturing, protecting and caring for the people in it.

"We didn't start off as a multi-racial species," psychologist Liz Phelps of New York University told me in my upcoming book about narcissism. "We have races simply because we dispersed."

The university's press release can be found here.

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