The Conceptualization of Race and Skin Color Among Children and Adults in the U.S.

Awarded Scholars:
Lori Markson, Washington University, St Louis
Rebecca Schwarzlose, Washington University, St Louis
Project Date:
Nov 2018
Award Amount:
$48,962

By about age 11, most American children acquire the notion that race is an immutable, and meaningful human property that is transmitted from parent to child—known as racial essentialism. Psychologist Lori Markson and neuroscientist Rebecca Schwarzlose will investigate how children between the ages of 5 to 11 and adults think about the inheritance of skin color, a trait associated with the construct of race. They will conduct experiments and implement an intervention designed to determine when American children generate consistent and adult-like predictions about skin-color inheritance, whether these predictions reflect notions of hypodescent, and whether they depend on the analogy of mixing fluids such as paints.

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