Exploring the Impact of Educational Television and Parent–Child Discussions on Children's Racial Attitudes


Brigitte Vittrup, Department of Family Sciences, Texas Woman's University, P.O. Box 425769, Denton, TX 76204 [e-mail: BVittrup@twu.edu].


The purpose of this study was to test the potential of educational television and parent–child discussions about race to change White children's attitudes toward Blacks. Ninety-three White children ages 5–7 and their parents participated. Families were randomly assigned into three experimental groups and one control group. Those in the experimental groups were asked either to show their children five educational videos, with or without additional discussions, or to have race-related discussions with their children without the videos. Improvements were seen in children's out-group attitudes in both the video and discussion groups, whereas in-group attitudes decreased for those who watched videos and had discussions with their parents. Results revealed lack of parental compliance. Even when instructed to do so, only 10% of parents reported having in-depth race-related discussions with their children. Children's racial attitudes were not significantly correlated with those of their parents, but children's perceptions of their parents’ attitudes were positively correlated with their own. Reasons for parents’ reticence about race discussions, their outcome implications, and directions for future research and intervention are discussed.