This study explores the development of national prejudice, ingroup favouritism and self-stereotyping in a sample of 329 British children. The aim was to test the prediction, derived from self-categorization theory (Oakes, Haslam & Turner, 1994; Spears & Haslam, 1997) and in opposition to cognitive-developmental theory (Aboud, 1988), that the supposed limited cognitive ability of young children to engage in individuated perception will not necessarily result in intergroup discrimination and self-stereotyping. The children were presented with a photograph evaluation task and some open-ended questioning. It was found that national prejudice, ingroup favouritism or self-stereotyping developed only in children aged over ten years and was not evident in young children. These findings question the validity of the cognitive-developmental approach which contends that intergroup discrimination and stereotyping are a product of information processing biases in young children. The apparent contradiction between the findings of this study and previous research on ethnic prejudice development is discussed in terms of the potential importance of groups norms in determining the willingness of people to express national prejudice and ingroup favouritism
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