Preempting Racism

Preventing race-based preferences from developing in early childhood 

Human beings are not born racist; rather, they learn to be racist. Studies have shown that race-based preferences emerge between three and five years old, yet little work has been undertaken in brain and behavioral science to investigate the individual, social and environmental variables that influence the development of these preferences. The Preempting Racism project seeks to discover more about when and why young children acquire race-based preferences, and then pilot and test different approaches to prevent them from developing in the first place.

Beyond Conflict has partnered with researchers at developmental psychology labs at Yale, Penn and New York University (NYU) to launch multiple longitudinal studies and measure the racial attitudes of hundreds of children from across the country. At the same time, our team is piloting several intervention programs to identify and refine promising ways to preempt the emergence of racial bias in young children. These pilot interventions are designed to be scalable, with an easy translation to parents and educators to ensure maximum impact and benefit.

The preliminary results of the longitudinal studies and initial pilot interventions will be delivered during the summer of 2019. Successful interventions could lead to targeted campaigns to counter the development of racial biases in young children. Additionally, when finalized the framework can be extended to explore what causes other types of discrimination, including on the basis of religion, ethnicity, gender, and age.

Participate in the research and contribute to science

Research is underway at the Princeton and NYU Discoveries in Action (PANDA) lab which invites parents and children to participate in short, fun developmental studies from their computers. These studies explore the same concepts as in-person research; the only difference is that PANDA studies take place entirely online. It is a simple, easy-to-use online platform that allows families to learn more about children’s development while making an important contribution to science.

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