Babies as young as six-months-old are racially biased towards their own race and against other races, according to researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.
A new pair of studies by OISE researchers purport to show that racial bias begins at an earlier age than previously thought.
The first study examined how long babies looked at pictures of different races while listening to happy or sad music. Researchers concluded that “after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music,” according to an OISE press release.
The second study examined how well babies pick up social cues from adults of different races. According to that study, six-month-old babies better pick up social cues from members of their own race than from members of other races. “Infants are biased to follow the social cues of own-race individuals over other-race adults under situations of uncertainty,” researchers concluded.
The two studies together, according to the OISE press release, “show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.”
“The findings of these studies are significant for many reasons,” claimed OISE professor Dr. Kang Lee, a leading author on the studies. “The results 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 preschool years.”
Lee also suggested that action may be needed to prevent racial bias in babies. (RELATED: Seattle Preschool Plans ‘Anti-Racism’ Lessons For Toddlers)
“If we can pinpoint the starting point of racial bias, which we may have done here, we can start to find ways to prevent racial biases from happening,” he said.