We are all born racist, Israeli scientists find

Is racial discrimination innate or learned? Are humans programmed to prefer their own group over others? Prof. Gil Diesendruck of Bar-Ilan University’s Psychology Department and Gonda Brain Research Center tries to answer these questions.

Whites are being persecuted for our innate nature. No other group is persecuted for having this same “racist” innate nature.

we showed children a drawing of an Arab boy and we said that he likes to play a game called Jimjam ‏(a made-up name‏). We also showed them a Jewish girl, and we said she likes to play a game called Tibbits ‏(another made-up name‏). When we showed them an Arab girl and asked what she likes to play with, most of the children inferred that she likes to play Jimjam. They deduced it on the basis of the ethnicity category rather than going by the gender category.”

They disregarded gender.

“Relative to ethnicity, gender was less significant, as was personality. ‏We presented a shy Arab boy playing Jimjam and an outgoing Jewish boy playing Tibbits, and we asked what would an outgoing Arab boy play with? [Also less significant were] social class ‏(rich versus poor‏) and religiosity ‏(religious versus secular‏). In other words: The children viewed the individuals that belonged to the same ethnicity as sharing greater similarity than individuals that shared the same gender, personality or social class.

“We also wanted to see whether the children think ethnic membership is determined by the environment or if it is inherited. We told them a story about a Jewish couple that has a baby, but since they work very hard and are busy, they give the baby to an Arab couple to care for. We asked them what they thought the baby would be when he grew up − Jew or Arab? Most of the children said he would be Jewish even though he was taken care of by Arabs. We told them similar stories in which the contrast between the biological and caretaking couples was different − e.g., the biological couple is rich and the caretaking couple is poor, or the first likes cats and the second likes dogs, etc. The characteristic that was viewed as the most biological, as the one that would stay with the baby even when raised by other parents, was ethnicity.”

The race factor

In other words, Israeli children perceive ethnicity as a fundamental characteristic: All members of the group have the same qualities, and this category is also thought to have a racial element: biological, inherited and unchangeable. Does the same hold true in other countries?

“All children in the world see human beings as belonging to different groups, and everywhere they view certain social categories in an essentialist way, i.e., as natural, homogeneous, hereditary and inalterable groups. But the degree of importance of each category varies according to the culture. In the United States, for example, the race factor is the most important, because this is something that is talked about a lot, and this has also been found to grow stronger with age; 10-year-olds ascribe more importance to it than 5-year-olds do.”

So the factors that contribute to categorization are basically cultural and environmental, and develop with age?

“The specific characteristics used as a basis for categorization depend on the culture and the environment, but the tendency to sort people into groups and this essentialist belief about them is something natural. Innate even. It’s something that quite surprised us, because you might think children are born without any social biases, and that they only develop this essentialist belief as a result of a certain kind of upbringing. But what we found was just the opposite: Children start out with this essentialist tendency, and only a particular kind of education can lead them to develop a different, more open attitude.”

How did you test this?

“We studied children aged 5, 8 and 12 from different educational systems: Jewish children who attended regular, ‘mainstream’ Jewish schools; Arab children in regular Arab schools, and Jewish and Arab children who studied together at bilingual schools that combine students and teachers from both ethnicities.

“We found that in all the groups, the 5-year-olds were equally essentialist, and to a high degree. That is, they all perceived the other ethnic group as very different, as homogeneous, and so on. As they got older, those who went to a regular school remained essentialist, but those who went to an integrated school with Arabs and Jews together, became less and less essentialist. The implication is that the environment doesn’t create essentialism; it’s there from the start. Environment and education only strengthen or temper it.”

So we’re born with the ability, the impulse even, to sort people into groups?

“It’s an evolutionary need, and therefore it’s an intuitive and universal trait. In the ancient world, but also today in certain situations, it was important for a person to be able to map and sort the people around him, to quickly define who is in my group − the in-group versus the other group, the out-group.

“This division has two complementary evolutionary advantages: On the one hand, defining the in-group creates cohesion among its members, cooperation and the possibility of achieving things as a group: finding food, staking out living space, and so on. At the same time, defining the out-group leads me to be alert and cautious toward its members who are competing with me for resources and may also threaten me.”

Which leads us to the subject of racism and discrimination, which is more than just a sorting of people into different groups. It’s the idea that my group is better than the others, and the actions that derive from this thinking: discrimination in favor of members of my group and against the others. When does this begin?

“This, too, has been observed in very young children. They favor their in-group over the out-group. Take this experiment, for example: We divided 3- and 4-year-olds into two groups − the ‘blue group’ and the ‘yellow group.’ Each member of the blue group watched a computer screen where the image of another child appeared. Sometimes we said the child on the screen also belonged to the blue group, and sometimes that he was a member of the yellow group. We gave the child watching the screen stickers and told him he could share them with the children who appeared on screen however he liked. The girls distributed the stickers to all the children equally, regardless of what group they belonged to, but the boys gave more stickers to members of their in-group − the blues − than to the members of the out-group − the yellows.

“Later on, we told the children that some of the children on the screen like the stickers and some really don’t like them, and then this happened: When the child on the screen belonged to the in-group, the boys and girls showed consideration for his preference: They gave a lot to the ones who liked stickers and only a few to the ones who didn’t. When the child was from the out-group, the girls didn’t take his preference into consideration − all were given the same number of stickers − while the boys discriminated much more strongly. If the child liked stickers they gave him just a few and if he didn’t like them, they gave him a lot. Not only were they inconsiderate toward the members of the out-group, they were ready to give up their own stickers in order to provoke them or hurt them.”


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10 Responses to We are all born racist, Israeli scientists find

  1. oogenhand says:

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Comfirmation bias. “Jimjam” sounds Arabic, while “Tibbits” sounds Hebrew. If the boy liked “Fnurking” while girl liked “Quitzy” things would be different. Also: “while the boys discriminated much more strongly” easily refutes the gender-neutral conception of nationhood found among WNs/White Supremacists, a relic of Christian monogamy.

  2. Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog says:

    Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.

  3. Wally says:

    Have Israelis been reading Prof. Kevin MacDonald?

  4. Skeeter says:

    Nice post — more proof that race is real and matters. Meanwhile and slightly off-topic, yet another white man is groveling and seeing his whole career/life possibly go down the tubes because he was caught on tape talking racially, this time from the sports world: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/nfl/story/2013/08/02/sp-nfl-football-philadelphia-eagles-excuse-riley-cooper-after-racial-slur.html. I’d tell the guy if I could meet him, “Don’t feel bad and remember the score between coloreds and whites: they leech off, rob, assault, rape and murder us … and sometimes we say stuff that offends them. So it is THEY who have a lot of restitution, apologizing and ‘splaining to do.”

    • Wally says:

      This is one case where he has to apologize. Cooper plays in the most dangerous sport in the world. His opponents can end his career and/or cripple him with hard tackles. Coooper works in a super violent workplace. A workplace which is majority black. And he said the slur at a country music concert. Which is not a place traditionally filled with hoards of threatening blacks. So there isn’t really any excuse that he can use. Riley just screwed up.

      • I think he’s done based on the “majority black workplace” part. Some of his black “teammates” have already thrown him under the bus.

        Maybe he’ll learn from this and join the rest of us in the real world.

  5. Wolzek says:

    What is interesting is the last two paragraphs. It seems that males instinctively display healthy in-group out-group reactions which aide in the survival of the in-group. They show clear preferential treatment to the in-group and out-group discrimination. Whereas it seems that while the females recognize and categorize people into their respective in-group out-groups, they do not display instinctively healthy in-group out-group reactions. They appear to treat the in-group and out-group the same, giving no preference at all to their in-group over the out-group.

    To think that this type of behavior is biological in origin is unsettling. It goes quite a ways to explaining why the majority of the liberal left and so called anti-racist groups are female, regardless of their race. At least it has been my experience and observation, that females overwhelmingly comprise the jewy leftist/egalitarian type groups/movements whereas the majority of males tend to drift towards a more racialist / nationalist stance, and those that don’t, most often just end up in a neutral middle.

    The real question is, if females can instinctively recognize in-group out-groups, why would females be programmed to be so egalitarian/universalist when such a thing is demonstrably counterproductive to in-group survival (and likely even their own survival)?

    • ContemplativeMorrigan says:

      This is a really great question to think about through the lens of evolutionary psychology. It’s pretty widely acknowledged, even in this age of warfare against gender norms, that women are socialized and biologically hardwired for social cooperation. I don’t really buy that an extra x chromosome ups your emotional and social IQ automatically or flips some “uncompetitive” switch in your brain, though. It really does come down to the best chance for survival.

      Female physiology pretty much ensures that we have to hedge our bets from day one. We’re physically weaker, have a much lower chance of being reproductively successful, and are much less benefitted by intelligence than men are – in some cases, it can actually be detrimental to our chances of having social, sexual, and maternal success. If our in-group is attacked by an out-group, we have less chance of being killed, true, but we are much more likely to be raped or taken captive. So, in ancient times when this kind of group warfare was more prevalent, women could very easily be temporarily cut off from their in-group if taken as slaves or permanently “othered” if they were impregnated by some out-group male enjoying the spoils of war. In those cases, it would be much more important to get along with the out-group members until escape/rescue – and, well, if neither of those were likely, it helps to have even a lowly out-group ally who knows the score and is willing to pool resources with you.

      There’s also the fact that women are naturally a little over half of the population. Unless she’s in a place with terrible maternal mortality rates or where sex selection is actively practiced to get male children, a woman will have to be very attractive or charismatic to be in high demand. To satisfy their biological imperative, most women will have to “settle” for a man who may not be able to provide adequately (or chooses to use his resources elsewhere), making it even more important for them to cooperate with anyone who can help keep them afloat, be that the “alpha” men from their in-group, the other women in their in-group, or even “others” who are in close proximity.

      Don’t get me wrong: I have met many competent, self-sufficient women, and I truly believe that most women guard their resources for in-group use, if only subconsciously. But it’s much easier for a woman to be relegated to out-group status than a man, and because of that it pays for us to be able to go along to get along sometimes.

    • I’m guessing this is an example of the “War Brides Dynamic” and it shouldn’t be unsettling unless you are committed to particular ideal of what female humans are like.


      The theory goes, and I’m not sure how much I buy this exactly, that women were often “war booty” so it’s adaptive to love/bond with your captor. So-called Stockholm Syndrome seems much more common in women. It would not be adaptive to “stick with the loser.”

      I don’t think women are naturally egalitarian/universalist at all but they tend to be conformist and egalitarianism is the current ruling ideology.

      (MW check your spam)

    • Anon says:

      This seems like it is measuring ethnic in-group vs out-group, rather than full blown racial ingroups and outgroups. Which would mean that women would lose very little by reproducing with the other group, and it would not be counterproductive to their passing on their genes.

      re warbrides: I’d imagine that its more maladaptive to slit ones own throat(especially in the inter-ethnic rather than inter-racial conflicts), than adaptive to side with foreign groups.

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