CRF Scholar Lisa Scott’s New Study on Infant Perception Receives Widespread Attention

CRF Scholar Lisa Scott’s New Study on Infant Perception Receives Widespread Attention

Former CRF Scholar, Lisa Scott (’09-’10) says her recent study of babies doesn’t mean the infants are racist, as has been reported in some media accounts. Her study confirms that although infants are born with equal abilities to tell apart people within multiple races, by age 9 months they are better at recognizing faces and emotional expressions of people within groups they interact with most.

 

The study was picked up by several news agencies, including US News and World Report, the Huffington Post and GOOD.  Scott, an assistant professor of psychology, found that by 9 months, infants show a decline in their ability to tell apart two faces within another race and to accurately match emotional sounds with emotional expressions of different-race individuals. Scott notes that babies from multilingual families are able to discriminate sounds in multiple languages and those exposed to a diverse set of people maintain the ability to tell the difference among those people. 

 

The results of the study have implications for the design of early education to reduce racial stereotyping and prejudice in adults.  Scott states, "These results suggest that biases in face recognition and perception begin in preverbal infants, well before concepts about race are formed. It is important for us to understand the nature of these biases in order to reduce or eliminate them."

 

To learn more about the study, published in May’s Journal of Developmental Science, click here: http://www.umass.edu/loop/talkingpoints/articles/152667.php

 

Scott is a developmental psychologist whose research involves the study of the neural mechanisms of perceptual category learning and perceptual experience in developmental populations.  She spent her time as a Family Research Scholar developing several grants, of which she received funding from the National Science Foundation and the US Army Research Institute totaling $2.9 million.

 

The Family Research Scholars Program provides selected faculty with the time, technical expertise, peer mentorship, and national expert consultation to prepare a large grant proposal to further their research.   For more information on the program please visit: www.umass.edu/family/scholars