Racism is the acting out of biases learned as early as preschool, research shows. If racism starts at three years old, so should science-backed strategies to reduce it.
There's no getting around it: we're all a little bit biased. But when do harmful implicit biases, like racial judgements, form? Developmental psychologist Lori Markson and her colleagues have identified racial bias in preschool children aged three to six years old. Despite learning that kids this age—both black and white—prefer white teachers, or that white kids trust black adults less, Markson is not pessimistic about the future of race relations—in fact she's the opposite. The more data we can collect on racial bias, the more information we have to develop strategies to close social divides. Based on the research she presents here, Markson outlines three strategies—diversity exposure, bias intervention, and cross-race friendships—that can help to end racist behavior in the next generation, and hopefully in the current one. This video was filmed at the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism.
Lori Markson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and the director of the Cognition & Development Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. Her research explores the cognitive mechanisms that allow children to successfully navigate the social world, with a focus on social exclusion, preferences, learning, and trust.