Challenging the view that implicit social cognition emerges from protracted social learning, research now suggests that intergroup preferences are present at adult-like levels in early childhood. Specifically, the pattern of developmental emergence of implicit attitudes is characterized by (i) rapidly emerging implicit preferences for ingroups and dominant groups and (ii) stability of these preferences across development. Together these findings demonstrate that implicit intergroup preferences follow a developmental course distinct from explicit intergroup preferences. In addition, these results cast doubt on ‘slow-learning’ models of implicit social cognition according to which children should converge on adult forms of social cognition only as statistical regularities are internalized over a lengthy period of development.
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