Children use wealth cues to evaluate others

Kristin Shutts, Elizabeth L. Brey, Leah A. Dornbusch, Nina Slywotzky, Kristina R. Olson

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127 Scopus citations


Wealth differences between individuals are ubiquitous in modern society, and often serve as the basis for biased social evaluations among adults. The present research probed whether children use cues that are commonly associated with wealth differences in society to guide their consideration of others. In Study 1, 4-5-year-old participants from diverse racial backgrounds expressed preferences for children who were paired with high-wealth cues; White children in Study 1 also matched high-wealth stimuli with White faces. Study 2 conceptually replicated the preference effect from Study 1, and showed that young children (4-6 years) also use material wealth indicators to guide their inferences about people's relative standing in other domains (i.e., competence and popularity). Study 3 revealed that children (5-9 years) use a broad range of wealth cues to guide their evaluations of, and actions toward, unfamiliar people. Further, biased responses were not attenuated among children whose families were lower in socioeconomic status. Often overlooked by those who study children's attitudes and stereotypes, social class markers appear to influence evaluations, inferences, and behavior early in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0149360
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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