The Identity Issue: Kids’ Identity Development from Age 1 to 10

Seeta Pai, Ph.D.
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Seeta Pai, Ph.D.
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icon_mediamatters5Around age 1 

Kids can distinguish broadly and visually among racial groups.

icon_mediamatters6Between ages 3 and 4 

Kids can group themselves and others based on racial, ethnic, other categories. Kids start to express prejudice.

icon_mediamatters7By age 5 

Kids know some concrete aspects of racial stereotypes—especially visual features like skin color. Kids from high-status groups show favoritism toward their own, while kids from lower-status groups sometimes prefer their own and sometimes prefer the high-status group.

icon_mediamatters8By age 8 to 10 

Kids are aware of more abstract and non-visual associations with race— such as skills, personality characteristics, etc. They can make explicit comparisons between their own and other groups, and can recognize prejudice and discrimination. Kids can change their own prejudices if they’ve had sufficient environmental input that counters their beliefs.

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