Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Corinne Zimmerman

Committee Member

Alycia M Hund


Prosociality, or behavior that benefits others, is largely influenced by social evaluations of others and ingroup biases. Implicit racial bias and preference for similar others can be detected early in childhood (Dunham et al., 2008; Renno & Shutts, 2015), necessitating a search for factors that may reduce bias in young children. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relation between parent-reported prosociality, inhibitory control, and exposure to people of color on young children’s cross-racial prosocial sharing behavior. Eighty-four 4- to 5-year-old children were recruited through schools, preschools, and daycare centers in Illinois. One parent per child completed a questionnaire to provide measures of prosociality, inhibitory control, and exposure to people of color. While viewing Black-White pairings of photos gender-matched to the participant, children participated in a sticker-sharing task to measure cross-racial sharing behavior, a preference task to measure racial preference, and an expectation of prosociality task to measure expectations of helping behaviors from Black and White others. I hypothesized that White children would give more stickers to White others than Black others. I also expected children’s inhibitory control and exposure to people of color would predict cross-racial sharing. Finally, I hypothesized that preferences and expectations would predict cross-racial sharing. White children shared significantly more stickers than they kept but did not share more with White others than Black others, indicating that the perceived division occurred between sharing and keeping instead of Black and White. Preferences for Black others and expectations of help from Black others significantly predicted cross-racial sharing scores. Inhibitory control was correlated with prosociality, but not with sticker sharing behavior. Exposure to people of color was positively correlated with preferences for Black others when controlling for age, and preferences for Black others significantly positively predicted the number of stickers shared with a Black other. These findings provide important details about cross-racial sharing during the preschool years.


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