Intellectual and Personality Characteristics of Children: Social-Class and Ethnic-Group Differences

Intellectual and Personality Characteristics of Children: Social-Class and Ethnic-Group Differences

Intellectual and Personality Characteristics of Children: Social-Class and Ethnic-Group Differences

Intellectual and Personality Characteristics of Children: Social-Class and Ethnic-Group Differences

Excerpt

Social-class and ethnic-group membership have been found to be associated with a wide variety of personality, motivational, cognitive, and achievement behaviors in children in our society (see reviews by Deutsch, 1973; Deutsch, Katz, & Jensen, 1968; Dreger & Miller, 1960, 1968; Hess, 1970; Jencks et al., 1972; Loehlin, Lindzey, & Spuhler, 1975; Zigler & Child, 1973). The most consistent and frequently noted finding is that lower-class and minority group children generally perform less well than white middle-class children on standardized measures of intelligence and achievement.

A variety of explanations has been proposed to account for the consistency of this finding. Some investigators (Gottesman, 1965; Herrnstein, 1973; Jensen, 1970) have argued that social classes and/or racial groups represent populations with differing gene pools. Within such an interpretation, dissimilarities in behavior are viewed primarily as reflections of genetic group differences. A contrasting viewpoint is the sociocultural position that social-class and ethnic-group differences in behavior are the product of differences along a broad spectrum of experiential factors. Within this approach, investigators have disagreed as to the particular experiences that mediate the reported behavioral differences. Variations in childrearing practices have been emphasized by many theorists, with earlier studies focusing on personality differences and more recent studies on cognitive differences among social class and ethnic groups (see reviews by Caldwell, 1964; Deutsch, 1973; Hess & Shipman, 1967; Silverstein & Krate, 1975; Zigler & Child, 1973). Other researchers, working within a sociological and anthro-

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