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Children like to affiliate with social groups based on race, gender, friendship, etc. One of the most important human achievements is our ability to be generous to others, regardless of the categorical membership. However, children from a young age show preference for own-race members and dislike for other-race members. At what point do such own-race preference first emerges?  

One major focus of my research aims to explore the phenomenon of interracial bias and understand how race-based bias or stereotypes acquire and change across development at both implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious) levels.  

Another major focus of my research also includes investigating how we might best reduce children’s racial bias against other-race members. So far, I am been focusing on two promising methods to reduce racial bias among early childhood.

  1. Individuation training, refers to the appreciation for heterogeneity among individuals within a out-race group. It reduces homogeneity of out-group members and interrupts the automatic tendency to lump those individuals together by their racial category. As a collateral consequence, the automatic association of negative valence with unfamiliar, other-race faces is disrupted, leading to the reduction of implicit racial bias. See the procedure of the individuation training below.


    2. Interpersonal interaction


Social cognition is characterized not only by our thinking about individuals, but also by our thinking about groups of individuals. One of the most important question is, are there priorities when children categorize their social world? Do some social categories carry more weight than others in guiding children's decisions? Specifically, I am very interested in how gender and race affect children's preference for peer friendship.

Young children often have rigid gender stereotypes. For example, they are more likely to think boys shouldn't look like girls, and girls shouldn't act like boys. I am interested in better understanding how children think about gender, gender stereotypes, and how children would evaluate their peers whose behavior does not conform to gender stereotypes.




Postdoctoral Fellow, Inequality in American Initiative

Harvard University


Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Toronto, Canada


M.S., Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, China


B.A., Social Work, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, China


Racial Bias, Prejudice, Stereotypes, Discrimination, Social Cognition, Social Categorization, Interventions, Children

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