Get access

Variability in the Inter-group Attitudes of White Children: What We Can Learn from Their Ethnic Identity Labels


Christia Spears Brown, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, 207 E Kastle Hall, Lexington, KY 40506. Email:


The current study examined the ethnic identity of White (N = 120), Latino (N = 87), and African-American (N = 65) children and early adolescents (aged = 9–14 years), with an emphasis on whether the specific ethnic label White children used to describe themselves might reflect differences in their inter-group attitudes and whether those differences mirror group differences between White children and children in ethnic minority groups. Results indicated that White children who identified with a minority label (i.e., White biracial, hyphenated American, ethnic/cultural/religious label) had more positive ethnic identities, were more aware of discrimination, and were less likely to show biases in their perceived similarity to in-group and out-group peers than youth who identified as White or American. In many instances, White children who identified with a minority label did not differ from ethnic minority youth. In addition, although all participants were more positive about their ethnic in-group than out-groups, children who identified their ethnicity as American were less positive about out-groups relative to other children. Taken together, the findings indicate that children's self-chosen ethnic identity is as important as their ascribed ethnic or racial identity in predicting their inter-group attitudes.