Children's judgments on the acceptability of prejudice

Jessica L. Spence, Karri Neldner, Matthew J. Hornsey, Kana Imuta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


By middle childhood, children become aware that discriminatory behavior is unacceptable; however, the development of their anti-prejudice sentiments is largely unknown. Across two studies, 333 Australian 5- to 10-year-olds (51% female, majority White) were asked how acceptable they thought it was to have prejudicial sentiments toward 25 different targets. Children responded privately through a novel digital paradigm designed to minimize social-desirability biases. With age, children were more likely to display anti-prejudice sentiments toward targets who are prosocial, vulnerable, and of minority race and linguistic backgrounds. In contrast, they judged prejudice as "okay" for targets who are antisocial and negatively regarded in society. These findings suggest that children's perceptions of prejudice become increasingly nuanced and adult-like across the primary school years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-49
Number of pages16
JournalChild Development
Issue number1
Early online dateJul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Children's judgments on the acceptability of prejudice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this