Children associate white, but not black, men with 'brilliant' stereotype, new study finds

man
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The stereotype that associates being "brilliant" with White men more than White women is shared by children regardless of their own race, finds a team of psychology researchers. By contrast, its study shows, children do not apply this stereotype to Black men and women.

"Among adults, gender stereotypes apply differently to men and depending on their ," explains Andrei Cimpian, an associate professor in New York University's Department of Psychology and the senior author of the study, which appears in the Journal of Social Issues. "That's why it is important to consider how gender and race intersect when examining 's gender stereotypes about .

"Our research indicates that the associating brilliance with White men more than White women is likely widespread—but also that children acquire no such stereotype about Black men and women. In fact, they may see Black women as more likely to be brilliant than they do Black men."

Previously, Cimpian and his colleagues found that, by the age of 6, girls become less likely than boys to associate brilliance with their own gender and are more likely to avoid activities said to require brilliance.

However, previous research on this stereotype has not considered how its acquisition might differ depending on the race of the men and women targeted by the stereotype—or depending on children's own race. In other words, does the "brilliance" stereotype extend across racial backgrounds?

Answering this question is important, the researchers note, because prior work by Cimpian and his collaborators has suggested that this "brilliance" stereotype may be a key reason for the gender gaps observed in many prestigious careers where intellectual talent is valued, including those in science and technology.

In their Journal of Social Issues study, the scientists posed a series of questions to more than 200 5- and 6-year-olds from New York City public elementary schools, comparing their assumptions about the intellectual abilities of White men and women with their assumptions about the intellectual abilities of Black men and women.

To gauge this, the researchers showed the children photographs of eight pairs of adults in a naturalistic setting (e.g., in a home, in an office), one pair at a time. The two people in each of the eight pairs were a woman and a man of the same race (four Black male/female pairs, four White male/female pairs). Children were told that one of the two individuals in each pair was "really, really smart" and were then asked to guess which one the smart individual was.

These results showed that, overall, children associate White men, more so than White women, with brilliance. The researchers also compared White children's responses with those of children of color (primarily Latinx, Black, and Asian) and found that they were largely in agreement on this topic.

However, children's views about the intellectual abilities of Black men and Black women were quite different. In fact, the researchers found, children generally see Black men as less brilliant than they do Black women.

"Overall, these findings reinforce the conclusion that the -brilliance stereotype is acquired relatively early on in life, but they also suggest that this stereotype may 'look' different depending on the ethnicity of the women and men that children are reasoning about," observes Jilana Jaxon, a co-first author on the paper and an NYU doctoral student at the time of the research.

"Understanding this nuance of how race modifies is important," adds Ryan Lei, a co-first author on the paper and an NYU postdoctoral researcher at the time of the study. "Research such as this is essential if we want to combat the effects of these stereotypes on all children's educational and career aspirations."


Explore further

Stereotypes about 'brilliance' affect girls' interests as early as age six, new study finds

More information: Journal of Social Issues, DOI: 10.1111/josi.12352
Citation: Children associate white, but not black, men with 'brilliant' stereotype, new study finds (2019, October 10) retrieved 20 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-10-children-associate-white-black-men.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
9 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 10, 2019
LOL. Brilliance is the burden of the privileged.

mqr
Oct 10, 2019
Where is the surprise? USA is the most racist and hateful country in the world. The rate of suicide in the USA is more than double than the rate of homicides, and yet we know that the USA is the most violent society in the the planet. They should make the study with children from societies where there is very little racism, like the Netherlands, Japan or China. But if they run the study in Germany, France or Finland, the results will be the same. India for example, would not "believe" than darker skin is related with stupidity, because some Indian people have very dark skin and are highly accomplished, but they would point highly racist following Gandhi tradition of hating Africans.

The essence of the USA, France, German cultures were described by an old philosopher when he said "it belongs to the human nature to hate those we had hurt". The American enslaved black people, segregated them, imprisoned them, and they deemed them as inferior. The German brutalized the Jews.

Oct 10, 2019
??? How many children use the term 'brilliant' ever?
USA is the most racist and hateful country in the world
My, aren't you a foul, ignorant little troll? Everything in your post is a lie.
Netherlands, Japan or China
"In 2005, a United Nations special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia expressed concerns about deep and profound racism in Japan and insufficient government recognition of the problem." [Racism is what drove nipponese atrocities in ww2; see 'rape of nanking"]

"China is a largely homogenous society; over 90 percent of its population has historically been Han Chinese. Some of the country's ethnic groups are distinguishable by physical appearance and relatively-low intermarriage rates... A 100-day crackdown on illegal foreigners in Beijing began in May 2012, with Beijing residents wary of foreign nationals due to recent crimes. China Central Television host Yang Rui said, controversially, that "foreign trash" should be cleaned out of the capital."

Oct 10, 2019
The American enslaved black people
"The Portuguese, in the 16th century, were the first to engage in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1526, they completed the first transatlantic slave voyage to Brazil, and other Europeans soon followed... major Atlantic slave trading nations, ordered by trade volume, were the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, and the Dutch Empires. Several had established outposts on the African coast where they purchased slaves from local African leaders... by the 1690s, the English were shipping the most slaves from West Africa. They maintained this position during the 18th century, becoming the biggest shippers of slaves across the Atlantic... Following the British and United States' bans on the African slave trade in 1808, it declined..."

-And then mostly WHITE northern americans fought and died to free them.

"365,000+ total dead[8]
282,000+ wounded[7]
181,193 captured

-you smelly little pissant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more