Infants’ Visual Attention to Own-Race and Other-Race Faces Is Moderated by Experience With People of Different Races in Their Daily Lives

Sophie H. Arnold, Nicole Burke, Rachel A. Leshin, Marjorie Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Infants sometimes differentially attend to faces of different races, but how this tendency develops across infancy and how it may vary for infants growing up with different exposure to racial diversity remain unclear. The present study examined the role of experiences with racial diversity on infants’ visual attention to different racial groups (specifically own-race vs. other-race groups) in the first year of life via a large-scale study of infants (N = 203; Mage = 6.9 months, range = 3–14 months; 70% White, 8% Asian, 5% Black, 12% multiracial, 4% unreported; 14% Hispanic, 86% non-Hispanic) from across the United States. We tested the role of two forms of racial diversity: that of infants’ social networks (reported by parents) and that of infants’ neighborhoods (obtained from U.S. Census data). Regardless of age, infants looked longer at other-race faces than own-race faces, but this tendency was moderated by the racial diversity of infants’ social networks. Infants with more diverse networks looked equivalently long at own-race and other-race faces, whereas those with less diverse networks looked longer at other-race faces. In contrast, infants’ looking behavior was not moderated by the diversity of their neighborhoods. Together, our research suggests that exposure to racial diversity in infants’ immediate social networks predicts how infants look to faces of different races, illustrating the context-dependent nature of the development of infants’ attention to race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • diversity
  • infant cognition
  • perception
  • race
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

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