March 1, 2017 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Speaker: Zoe Liberman, UC Santa Barbara
Title: The origins of social categorization in infancy
Abstract: Social categorization has profound influences on human social life. How does the human tendency to form social groups emerge? And, what counts as evidence that infants are forming social categories? In this talk, I will review research on social preferences and social expectations in infancy and will argue that starting by the first year of life infants are able to form conceptually-rich social categories. Specifically: social categories guide infants’ inferences about peoples’ shared characteristics and social relationships. However, I will also suggest that the ability to form abstract social categories can be separable from the eventual negative downstream consequences of social categorization, including prejudice and discrimination. Whereas a tendency to form social categories appears early in ontogeny, social prejudice based on a particular category dimension may not be inevitable.