Children Associate Racial Groups With Wealth: Evidence From South Africa

Kristina R. Olson, Kristin Shutts, Katherine D. Kinzler, Kara G. Weisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Group-based social hierarchies exist in nearly every society, yet little is known about whether children understand that they exist. The present studies investigated whether 3- to 10-year-old children (N=84) in South Africa associate higher status racial groups with higher levels of wealth, one indicator of social status. Children matched higher value belongings with White people more often than with multiracial or Black people and with multiracial people more often than with Black people, thus showing sensitivity to the de facto racial hierarchy in their society. There were no age-related changes in children's tendency to associate racial groups with wealth differences. The implications of these results are discussed in light of the general tendency for people to legitimize and perpetuate the status quo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1884-1899
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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