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National identifications and attitudes towards a ‘traditional enemy’ nation among English children

Clay, D and Barrett, MD (2011) National identifications and attitudes towards a ‘traditional enemy’ nation among English children European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8 (1). 25 - 42. ISSN 1740-5629

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This study investigated national identifications and national attitudes amongst white English children aged 6-7 and 10-11 years old. Eighty children were interviewed using a scale to measure their strength of national identification, and using a trait attribution task and affect questions to measure their attitudes towards four target groups: English people (the ingroup), German people (a salient ‘traditional enemy’ outgroup), French people (a salient and positively liked outgroup) and Dutch people (a non-salient outgroup). It was found that the children’s attitudes to German people developed differently from the way in which their attitudes to French and Dutch people developed. There was also consistent evidence of ingroup favouritism, at both ages. However, there were no significant relationships between the strength of national identification and attitudes towards any of the four target groups, and there were also no gender differences on any of the measures. It is argued that these findings cannot be explained by cognitive-developmental theory. In addition, while social identity theory is able to explain the different developmental patterns displayed by the children’s outgroup attitudes, this theory has difficulty in explaining the lack of any relationship between the children’s national identifications and attitudes. It is suggested that English children’s national attitudes may be driven more by exogenous sources of information about salient national groups than by social identity processes per se.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Christina Daoutis
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2011 11:18
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 18:40

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