Babies are born with a preference for their own race, or at least that’s what the latest study on the subject would lead us to believe.
The study was done by researchers at the University of Washington, and they noticed that babies seemed more willing to share their toys with others who were their own race rather than a different race.
If you’re wondering if they somehow skewed their results, one of the researchers, Jessica Sommerville who’s an associate professor for the school, said in a press release that “It’s not like one experimenter was nicer or friendlier to the babies – we control for factors like that.”
“At the time, about half of the research assistants in my lab were Asian-American and the other half were Caucasian, and most of the babies in our experiments are Caucasian,” she said.
“We know that by preschool, children show in-group bias concerning race, but results in infants have been mixed.”
According to Sommerville, she and her team came up with an experiment that would test how both fairness and race factor into the baby’s decision on who they’re going to play with.
She explained that “It’s surprising to see these pro-social traits of valuing fairness so early on, but at the time, we’re also seeing that babies have self-motivated concerns too.”
How they conducted the experiment was by taking 40 white 15-month-old infants and had them sit on their mother’s laps. At the same time, they watched two different people divide up toys, one divided them evenly and the other did not however both people were white.
From there the babies were turned loose and allowed to go pick a play partner. According to their findings, 70% of the babies picked the person who divided the toys evenly.
Researchers said that this shows a baby’s desire to choose their playmates based on fairness as long as their playmates were the same ethnicity.
For the racial aspect of their research, they took 80 white 15-month-old babies and had them do the same thing as the last group. Only this time one of the recipients of the toys was Asian. They had half of the babies watch as the Asian was given more toys and the other half watch as a white person was given more toys.
According to the researchers the babies more often chose the white recipient.
As far as Sommerville is concerned, “If all babies care about is fairness, then they would always pick the fair distributor, but we’re also seeing that they’re interested in consequences for their own group members.”
Her and her research partner said that this is conclusive evidence that babies factor in race when deciding on a play partner.
Do you think that a baby, that doesn’t even really know what it looks like, can make a conscious choice regarding ethnicity when deciding who to play with? Let us know with a comment!