Our Research

We seek to understand how children make sense of the social world

Intersectional Social Perception

Any person can be categorized along multiple dimensions of identity, including their race, gender, and age (among others). Yet, most developmental research has only examined the influence of one identity dimension at a time. This line of work examines how children use and integrate multiple dimensions of identity (e.g., race and gender) when categorizing others.

In recent work, we show that preschool-aged children associate Blackness with masculinity, leading to the psychological invisibility of Black women (Lei, Leshin, & Rhodes, under review), as well as specific anti-Black boy bias (Perszyk*, Lei*, et al., 2019). We are also investigating children's associations between race and social class. In future work, we plan to examine how to get children to increase the diversity of their category representations.

 

For more information on our current studies see the pamphlets below:

 

How children think about inequality

Children are often driven by a strong desire for fairness in virtually all social interactions, but adults are often ok with inequality and in fact justify inequality. We are interested in how and when this shift happens from childhood to adulthood. Specifically, what are the cognitive, social, and motivational factors that lead children to start believing that inequality is ok? One current study in this line of work considers children’s evaluations of claims of inequality.

 

For more information, see the pamphlet below:

Talking to your child about social groups

We are starting a new line of work investigating how parents might best talk to their children about different social groups, including gender, race, and social class. What sorts of messages do children hear from parents? What other communicative signals (such as nonverbal movements) do children pick up on to learn about the social world around them?

Father with his Son

©2019 by Ryan F. Lei. Proudly created with Wix.com