In Sickness and in Filth: Children's Emerging Biases Toward Unhealthy and Unclean Others
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Cleanliness and health are highly valued, and individuals lacking these qualities often elicit negative attitudes (Speltini & Passini, 2014). To measure 5-9 year-olds’ attitudinal biases towards unhealthy and unclean people, participants were shown pictures of “twin” children. One twin was dirty or sick (spilled soup or vomit on white shirt); the other was clean or healthy (white shirt). A series of tasks measured implicit and explicit biases. Children were less likely to trust the sick child compared to the healthy child, p<0.001. However, the difference in selective trust was less evident between the clean and dirty twins, p=0.055. Participants tended to allocate favorable items to the clean twin, p=0.007, while allocating unfavorable items to the dirty twin, p=0.006, but did not differentially allocate resources between healthy and sick twins, ps>0.8. Overall, young children favor clean and healthy individuals, but in differing situations. This project was made possible by funding from F&M's Hackman Summer Scholars Program, the American Psychological Association Summer Undergraduate Psychology Research Experience Grants, and the American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant.
Poster presented at the 2017 Autumn Research Fair at Franklin and Marshall College