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The intergenerational transmission of ethnic essentialism: how parents talk counts the most

Segall, Gili; Birnbaum, Dana; Deeb, Inas; Diesendruck, Gil
The present study analyzed the role of parents as potential sources of children's essentialist beliefs about ethnicity. We tested 76 parent-child (5-year-olds) dyads of Jewish Israeli parents from three social groups, defined by the kindergartens children attended: national religious, secular, or Jewish-Arab integrated. We assessed parents' and children's beliefs, and parents' usage of ethnic attitudinal and categorization markers in a book-reading activity. Overall, national religious parents manifested the strongest ethnic essentialism and endorsement of anti-negotiations with Palestinians, and were the most likely to express negative attitudes and mark ethnic categories in their conversations with their children. Moreover, regression analyses revealed that ethnic categorization in parents' speech was the most reliable predictor of children's ethnic essentialism. Ethnic essentialism is transmitted to children not via explicit communication of intergroup beliefs or attitudes, but rather via the sheer marking of categories in ways that resonate with children's own intuitive ways of conceptualizing the social world.
PMID: 25212249
ISSN: 1467-7687
CID: 4379352

Learning What is Essential: Relative and Absolute Changes in Children's Beliefs about the Heritability of Ethnicity

Diesendruck, Gil; Birnbaum, Dana; Deeb, Inas; Segall, Gili
ISSN: 1524-8372
CID: 4379362

Seeing isn't believing: the effect of intergroup exposure on children's essentialist beliefs about ethnic categories

Deeb, Inas; Segall, Gili; Birnbaum, Dana; Ben-Eliyahu, Adar; Diesendruck, Gil
Adults and children seem to essentialize certain social categories. Three studies investigated whether, and how, exposure to ethnic diversity affects this bias. Participants were 516 kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 6th grade Israeli Jewish and Arab children attending regular (mono-cultural) or integrated schools. Study 1 revealed that exposure increased the salience of ethnicity, especially for Jewish children. Study 2 showed no differences among groups at kindergarten regarding the relevance of recalling a story character's ethnicity, but by 2nd grade, Jewish children attending integrated schools were the most likely to mention such information. Finally, Study 3 revealed that while all kindergarteners started off at a similar level of essentialism towards ethnicity, exposure affected Arab, but especially Jewish, children's essentialist beliefs. Moreover, there were negative correlations between the salience of and essentialism towards ethnicity. Thus, interethnic exposure alleviated children's essentialist bias towards ethnicity and did so via making children aware of, rather than blind to, ethnic categories.
PMID: 22059842
ISSN: 1939-1315
CID: 4379342

The development of social essentialism: the case of israeli children's inferences about jews and arabs

Birnbaum, Dana; Deeb, Inas; Segall, Gili; Ben-Eliyahu, Adar; Diesendruck, Gil
Two studies examined the inductive potential of various social categories among 144 kindergarten, 2nd-, and 6th-grade Israeli children from 3 sectors: secular Jews, religious Jews, and Muslim Arabs. Study 1-wherein social categories were labeled-found that ethnic categories were the most inductively powerful, especially for religious Jewish children. Study 2-wherein no social category labels were provided-found no differences across sectors either in the inductive potential of ethnic categories or in children's capacity to visually recognize social categories. These results stress the importance of labels and cultural background in children's beliefs about social categories. The implications of these findings for accounts of the development of social essentialism are discussed.
PMID: 20573103
ISSN: 1467-8624
CID: 4379332