The Bias Virus

Bias virus imageNearly every parent can remember a time when their child wanted to wear a certain outfit or eat a certain food because “that’s what mommy and daddy do.” It’s no question that kids are copy cats.

However, kids may pick up on much more than just eating habits. A recent study shows that children can actually “catch” social bias from adults, even when they don’t openly say anything biased.

Kids in this study watched videos in which adults showed positive gestures (such as smiling and leaning in) to one woman and negative gestures (such as scowling and leaning away) to another woman. Although the words that were spoken between the adults and the women were the same, the kids still showed a strong preference for the woman the adults were nice to. Not only that, but this preference actually carried over to the best friend of the woman, suggesting that kids can show a like/dislike for someone, just because they associate them with someone their parent dislikes.

This shows that kids are very perceptive when it comes to the facial expressions and body language that their parents use. You don’t have to openly say you don’t like somebody for your child to know.

Parents need to be aware of how observant their children can be, so that they don’t pass along negative beliefs such as racism, sexism, and other prejudices to their kids.

So next time you catch yourself scowling at someone because of their clothes or haircut, remember that your child is picking up on a lot more than you may think.

Written by Aspen Mueller


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