Why Developmental Research on Social Categorization Needs Intersectionality

Ryan F. Lei, Marjorie Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children develop rich concepts of social categories throughout early and middle childhood. Whereas we know much about the development and consequences of many social categories individually, we know less about the development of representations at the intersection of multiple categories—for instance, how children think about race and gender together. This is a critical issue because every person a child meets holds membership in multiple social categories. Thus, overlooking how children integrate information about multiple categories causes a major gap in our understanding of the development of social cognition. An intersectional framework, which considers both how group-based bias is expressed toward people with one versus multiple minoritized identities and how power structures shape these processes, can help address this issue. In this article, we review research on children's use of race and gender, and describe how an intersectional framework can address gaps in knowledge and advance both equity and theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-147
Number of pages5
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • gender
  • intersectionality
  • race
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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