Relations Between Colorblind Socialization and Children’s Racial Bias: Evidence From European American Mothers and Their Preschool Children


  • This article is based on a dissertation submitted by Erin Pahlke to the University of Texas at Austin in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral degree under the joint supervision of Rebecca Bigler and Marie-Anne Suizzo. We thank the members of the dissertation committee, Edmund Emmer, Toni Falbo, Guy Manaster, and Richard Valencia. We also thank members of the Gender and Racial Attitudes Laboratory who helped with data collection and the families who graciously participated in the study.

concerning this article should be addressed to Erin Pahlke, School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, PO Box 873701, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701. Electronic mail may be sent to


To examine European American parents’ racial socialization, mothers (n = 84) were videotaped while reading 2 race-themed books to their 4- to 5-year-old children and completed surveys concerning their racial attitudes and behaviors. Children completed measures of their racial attitudes and both groups (mothers and preschoolers) predicted the others’ racial attitudes. Results indicated that nearly all mothers adopted “colormute” and “colorblind” approaches to socialization. Furthermore, neither children nor mothers accurately predicted the others’ views. Children’s racial attitudes were unrelated to their mothers’ attitudes but were predicted by their mothers’ cross-race friendships; those children whose mothers had a higher percentage of non-European American friends showed lower levels of racial biases than those children whose mothers had a lower percentage of non-European American friends.