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Gender and racial favouritism in Black and White preschool girls


Correspondence should be addressed to Beth Kurtz-Costes, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA (e-mail:


The authors examined gender and racial preferential behaviour in 108 3- and 5-year-old Black and White girls. Children set up a birthday party for dolls that differed in gender and racial physical characteristics. Whereas White girls showed favouritism towards the doll most closely resembling themselves in both gender and race, Black girls showed most favouritism towards the White girl doll. Black girls were more likely to show preference based on gender rather than race, whereas White girls were equally likely to show race- or gender-based favouritism. Among White 5-year-olds, greater prior interaction with Blacks was positively associated with race-related favouritism (i.e., secondary preference to the White boy doll rather than the Black girl doll). Interracial contact was unrelated to racial favouritism among the other three groups. Results demonstrate the salience of gender identity during the preschool years, and indicate that majority/minority status and intergroup contact shape the development of collective identity and social behaviour.