Hatred of Outsiders Kicks in Between Ages 6 and 8

A NEW study says we start learning to divide the world between “us” and “them” between the ages of 6 and 8.

The research out of Germany also found that “eight-year-old boys feel, or at least act upon, this disdain far more strongly than eight-year-old girls.”

The research from Germany suggests this problematic psychological process—which underpins racism, extreme nationalism, and prejudice of all sorts—kicks in somewhere around age seven.

In the journal Psychological Science, they present evidence that six-year-olds show clear bias in favor of a group they belong to. However, hatred for opposing groups doesn’t show up until two years later.

But the research suggests love for people we think of as members of our group precedes hatred for those we perceive as outsiders. This may present a teaching opportunity.



4 thoughts on “Hatred of Outsiders Kicks in Between Ages 6 and 8

  1. I remember, when I was a kid, riding my bike to the next suburb and finding out about hatred of outsiders. Also walking home from a catholic school was another lesson in hatred of outsiders. Being Italian is another lesson. Being a Muslim now is yet another. I think I have it covered. 🙂


      • It’s like joining a club, Dabs. As an individual you find that club suits most of your own aspects, though you differ a bit on some things. Then you find another that is a closer fit. And the process might go on as we grow in understanding, and hopefully wisdom. Surely life is about change?

        I was once told that someone who can’t change their mind is like someone who can’t change their clothes – in need of a good wash down. Don’t know about that completely – no way I’m going to change my mind about social injustice. But I do try to keep a flexible mind.


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