What is it about?

Ethnic Chinese preschoolers belonging to the racial majority in Singapore showed implicit racial bias, by being faster to match positive attributes with Chinese faces and negative attributes with Indian faces, as well as explicit racial bias, by choosing Chinese over Indian adults for desirable jobs in their social environment. In contrast, ethnic Indian preschoolers belonging to the racial minority in Singapore did not show either form of bias. Overall, children who were more accurate at assigning racial labels to Chinese and Indian faces, showed greater implicit bias in favor of their own race.

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Why is it important?

These findings suggest that racial bias (a) emerges from an early age, (b) exists even in a multicultural society that institutionalizes racial equality, and (c) is predicted by the use of racial categories. Multicultural education should therefore begin at the preschools, and multicultural programs should de-emphasize the use of racial labels to characterize people in our social world.


It was a meaningful experience writing this paper, because empirical investigations of early social attitudes and behavior in Singapore have largely been lacking. In particular, the bulk of research on racial biases was conducted with Western samples, which creates the challenge of identifying findings that are relevant and generalizable to other sociopolitical contexts and cultures.

Peipei Setoh
Nanyang Technological University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Racial Categorization Predicts Implicit Racial Bias in Preschool Children, Child Development, June 2017, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12851.
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