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Does age affect how we perceive race? Study measures attitudes toward white, black children

Multi-American's sister blog DCentric in Washington, D.C. has featured a fascinating and somewhat unsettling study from the journal of Social and Psychology & Personality Science that measures differences in people's charitable attitudes toward white and black children. These were the only two racial groups included in the study, which took in data from an online charity that solicits donations for school projects, but the takeaway is this: People tend to be more charitably disposed toward young black kids than older black kids.

This, and that as members of a racial group age, people "perceive you more in line with your group stereotypes," according to one of the study's authors.

Project proposals that included photos of older black children, sixth through 12th graders, didn"t get as many donations as proposals with photos of younger black children. The opposite held true for white kids. As for the donors, they weren't identified by race, but tended to be "highly-educated, wealthier and living on the east or west coast, which is more liberal." From the post:

"What we show is as you grow toward adulthood, you come to represent your group in a much stronger fashion. People perceive you more in line with your group stereotypes." says Deborah Small, one of the study"s authors. "Young children, we don"t penalize them by their [group's] stereotypes. Their "groupness" is not fully formed yet."

For African Americans, that means teenagers are more likely to be associated with stereotypes of being lazy, thus less deserving of sympathy and charity than young black children or white children, the study"s authors note.

...Researchers also found that people were more charitable toward young black children than young white children. Small said that could be a result of some measure of white guilt, or more likely, that people assume that black kids are more needy than white kids, despite coming from similar economic situations.

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