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Title page for ETD etd-09282018-232956

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Conder, Emily Brooks
Author's Email Address emily.b.conder@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-09282018-232956
Title Overhearing Children’s and Adults’ Negative Messages Influences Children’s Intergroup Attitudes
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jonathan Lane Committee Member
Megan Saylor Committee Member
  • social cognition
  • intergroup attitudes
  • testimony
  • overhearing
Date of Defense 2018-08-17
Availability restricted
Understanding how children develop intergroup attitudes is of both practical and theoretical importance. From as young as 3 years, children demonstrate preferences for their own social group at the expense of out-groups. With age, these preferences can evolve into out-group derogation. One way that children might acquire intergroup bias is by overhearing verbal messages. The influence of such messages on children’s attitudes is likely to depend on the speaker’s knowledge, which can be deduced from the speaker’s age. In this study, 3- to 9-year-olds (N = 131) overheard a speaker (who was either an adult or child) make negative claims or no claim about a novel social group. Children’s implicit and explicit intergroup attitudes were assessed immediately after overhearing the speaker and after a two-week delay. At both time points, children who overheard the speaker’s negative claims demonstrated stronger negative attitudes toward the novel group compared to children who did not hear the speaker’s claim. This effect was found among older (6.50 – 9.25 years) but not younger children (3.75 – 6.49 years). In general, children’s attitudes were equally influenced whether they had overheard an adult or child speaker.

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