Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

47.A Study of Prejudice in Children *

Else Frenkel-Brunswik

[ Another promising approach to the explanation of race prejudice in terms of personality is provided by a study of the development of prejudice in children. A recent report on this subject is that by the psychologist, Dr. Else Frenkel-Brunswik. ]


A RESEARCH PROJECT ON ETHNIC PREJUDICE IN CHILDREN AND
ADOLESCENTS

We shall point out the differences in the personalities of the ethnically prejudiced and unprejudiced child. It will turn out that such prejudice is but one aspect of a broader pattern of attitudes. At the same time, we shall try to discover areas of possible modifiability in the personality structure of the prejudiced child. As a first step, a description will be given of the social and political beliefs of such children. Next, we shall present a composite picture of their personality structure. An attempt will be made to study their social opinions and attitudes in relation to their basic personality needs. The initial classification of subjects was made on the basis of responses to a series of about fifty slogans of racial prejudice or tolerance as well as statements pertaining to more general social attitudes. A prejudice scale was thus constructed with items regarding the attitude of children toward five minority groups: Jews, Negroes, Japanese, Mexicans, and "outgroups" in general. It proceeds along established lines in that it covers such situations as eating in the same restaurant, living in the same neighborhood, participating at the same social affairs, letting in or keeping people out of the country, and stereotypical accusations of minority members such as cruelty of the Japanese, laziness of the Negroes, or radicalism and moneymindedness of the Jews.

It was found that some of the children tend to reveal a stereotyped and rigid glorification of their own group and an aggressive rejection of outgroups and foreign countries. The scale yielded split-half correlations of from .82 to .90 (uncorrected for length of test), indicating that ethnic prejudice is a consistent and firmly

____________________
*
From Human Relations, 1 ( 1948), 295-306. Copyright 1948 by Human Relations. Reprinted by permission of Human Relations and the author.

-474-

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