Social Identity and the Development of Children's Group Attitudes



This study assessed predictions drawn from social identity theory (SIT; Tajfel & Turner) concerning the acquisition of young children's intra- and intergroup attitudes and cognitions. In a minimal group study, 5- and 8-year-old children (N= 258) were arbitrarily assigned to teams that varied in their drawing ability (social status). In addition, the study varied the extent to which the children believed they could change teams (social mobility) and whether the team had additional positive qualities beyond their drawing skill (social change). The children subsequently rated their liking for, and similarity to, the ingroup and the outgroup and the extent to which they wished to change groups. Consistent with SIT and research with adults, the results indicated that children as young as 5 years of age were sensitive to the status of their social group, and that ingroup status has important implications for both their desire to remain group members as well as their perceived similarity to other group members. The extent to which the findings provide support for SIT and the intergroup similarities between adults and children are discussed.