“Promoting Social Equity and Preempting Racial Bias: A Developmental Science Approach”
Hosted by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Abstract: The United States is facing a pervasive crisis of social inequality. To address this crisis, we need to understand the psychological roots of the discriminatory practices and policies that maintain disparities based on gender, race, and other social identities. In this talk, I will examine the critical role that developmental science can play in promoting social equity by identifying the psychological processes and developmental mechanisms that underlie children’s developing concern for equity and emerging racial biases. In the first section of my talk, I will review how conceptions of equity develop in early childhood, how children balance the conflicting concerns for equity and equality, and how children distinguish between individually- and structurally-based inequalities. In the second section of my talk, I will examine how children’s foundational beliefs about the structure of the social world developmentally predict the emergence of racial biases. Specifically, I will review evidence from two longitudinal studies (one in NYC pre-ks, one online with nearly 2000 children from across the U.S.) revealing how children’s normative beliefs about racial segregation and explanatory beliefs about racial hierarchy developmentally predict the emergence of racial bias and discuss key environmental factors that predict variation in this development. I will conclude by outlining several avenues for how developmental science can be leveraged to promote social equity in childhood through the integration of novel methodologies, technological advancements, community partnerships, and theoretical concepts from economics, sociology, and social psychology.
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