Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Racism? Risks and Benefits to Teaching Children About Intergroup Biases


  • Rebecca S. Bigler and Yamanda F. Wright, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin.


By the time children start formal schooling, they endorse stereotypes and exhibit prejudice on the basis of many traits, including age, attractiveness, disability status, gender, and race. Despite the relevance of these phenomena to children's lives, as well as to understanding historical and contemporary human relations, little consensus exists about whether, when, or how to teach children about intergroup biases (i.e., stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination). In this article, we review the risks and benefits of learning about intergroup biases among elementary school children. We conclude that lessons about intergroup biases are valuable and call for additional research on how best to maximize their effectiveness for improving intergroup relations while minimizing associated risks.