Essentialism promotes children's inter-ethnic bias

Gil Diesendruck, Roni Menahem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the developmental foundation of the relation between social essentialism and attitudes. Forty-eight Jewish Israeli secular 6-year-olds were exposed to either a story emphasizing essentialism about ethnicity, or stories controlling for the salience of ethnicity or essentialism per se. After listening to a story, children's attitudes were assessed in a drawing and in an IAT task. Compared to the control conditions, children in the ethnic essentialism condition drew a Jewish and an Arab character as farther apart from each other, and the Jewish character with a more positive affect than the Arab character. Moreover, boys in the ethnic essentialism condition manifested a stronger bias in the IAT. These findings reveal an early link between essentialism and inter-group attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1180
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 12 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was conducted with the support of grant no. 672/09, from the Israel Science Foundation to GD. We thank Jordan Ferenz for his extraordinary help with the IAT preparation, data collection, and analyses, and Netta Sobelman for coding.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 Diesendruck and Menahem.


  • attitudes
  • children
  • essentialism
  • ethnicity
  • social categories


Dive into the research topics of 'Essentialism promotes children's inter-ethnic bias'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this