Cross-Cultural Differences in Children's Beliefs About the Objectivity of Social Categories



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 86, Issue 2, 659, Article first published online: 25 March 2015

  • This research was funded by Grant 672/09 awarded by the Israel Science Foundation to Gil Diesendruck, New York University Challenge Funds to Marjorie Rhodes, and NICHD Grant HD-36043 to Susan Gelman. The study was part of Rebecca Goldfein-Elbaz's master's thesis. We want to thank the teachers, parents, and children for their participation.


The present study compared 5- and 10-year-old North American and Israeli children's beliefs about the objectivity of different categories (= 109). Children saw picture triads composed of two exemplars of the same category (e.g., two women) and an exemplar of a contrasting category (e.g., a man). Children were asked whether it would be acceptable or wrong for people in a different country to consider contrasting exemplars to be the same kind. It was found that children from both countries viewed gender as objectively correct and occupation as flexible. The findings regarding race and ethnicity differed in the two countries, revealing how an essentialist bias interacts with cultural input in directing children's conceptualization of social groups.