|Articles, Barack Obama, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2014-04-17 22:11Z by Steven|
Meagan M. Patterson, Associate Professor of Psychology
University of Kansas
Erin Pahlke, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
Rebecca S. Bigler, Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies
University of Texas, Austin
The 2008 presidential election presented a unique opportunity to examine children’s attention to racial issues in politics. We conducted interviews with 6- to 11-year-old children (70 boys, 60 girls; 29 African Americans, 58 European Americans, 43 Latinos) within 3 weeks prior to and after the election. Interview questions concerned knowledge, preferences, and perceptions of others’ attitudes concerning the election, views of the implications of the election for race relations, and personal aspirations to become president. Results indicated that children were highly knowledgeable about Obama’s status as the first African American president. Most children felt positively about the presence of an African American candidate for president, although a few children showed clear racial prejudice. Overall, children expected others to show racial ingroup preferences but simultaneously endorsed the optimistic view that Obama’s race was a slight asset in his bid for the presidency. Older children were somewhat more likely to view Obama’s race as negatively impacting his chances of being elected than younger children. African American and Latino children were more interested in becoming president than European American children; aspiration rates did not change from pre- to post-election.
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