"It feels like it's in your body": How children in the United States think about nationality

Larisa J. Hussak, Andrei Cimpian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Concepts of national groups (e.g., Americans, Canadians) are an important source of identity and meaning in people's lives. Here, we provide a developmental investigation of these concepts. Across 3 studies involving 5- to 8-year-olds and adults in the United States, we found that (a) compared with older children and adults, young children were more likely to think that national groups have a biological basis, but that (b) other aspects of national group concepts-such as the idea that national group membership is stable and informative about a person-changed less with development. Moreover, with age, the notion that membership in a national group is a meaningful fact about a person (vs. a mere formality) began to link up with attitudes that rationalized the national ingroup's economic advantages and portrayed it as superior to national outgroups. This work contributes to theory on the development of social cognition and provides a unique source of insight into current political trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1153-1168
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Concepts
  • Development
  • Essentialism
  • National groups
  • Nationality
  • Mental Processes
  • Child Development/physiology
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Child, Preschool
  • Male
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Social Identification
  • Social Perception
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Child

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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