A study done at university of Toronto, Canada, found that babies as young as 6 months show racial bias in the favour of members of their own race.

The research

In the research, infants from 3 to 10 months of age, watched a series of videos depicting female adults with a neutral facial expression. Before viewing each face, infants heard a music clip. Babies participated in one of the four music-face combinations:

1) Happy music followed by own-race faces,

2) Sad music followed by own-race faces,

3) Happy music followed by other-race faces, and

4) Sad music followed by other-race faces.

Researchers found that infants at six to nine months of age looked longer at own-race faces when paired with happy music as opposed to the ones with sad music. In contrast, six to nine-month-olds looked longer at other-race faces when paired with sad music compared to with the ones with happy music.

In another study, researchers examined whether infants were biased to learn from own-race adults versus other-race adults. Researches showed infants a series of videos. In each video, a female adult looked at any one of the four corners of the screen. In some videos:

1) An animal image appeared in the looked at location (a reliable gaze).

2) In other videos, an animal image appeared at a non-looked-at location (an unreliable gaze).

It was found that six to eight-month-old infants followed the gaze of members of their own race more than they followed the gaze of other-race individuals. This was the case when the pictures were an unreliable gaze. This signifies that in case of uncertainty, infants are biased to learn from people of their own race.


Dr Kang Lee, professor at University of Toronto in Canada, said, “The findings of these studies are significant for many reasons. They show that race-based bias already exists around the second half of a child’s first year.”

“This challenges the popular view that race-based bias first emerges only during the pre-school years,” Lee said.

The 1st study was published in the journal of developmental science, and the 2nd one in the journal, Child Development.

Source: (NDTV )