Marjorie Rhodes, Professor of Psychology, Associate Chair, New York University
Title: “How differences become different kinds"
Abstract: Classifying people into categories is a fundamental means by which we make sense of the social world. While people can be categorized along countless dimensions, young children rapidly develop the belief that some ways of grouping people—more than others—reflect fundamental, objective, and meaningful ways of carving up the world. How do these beliefs that some particular differences between individuals reflect fundamentally distinct kinds of people develop? This talk will present experimental research revealing how subtle linguistic cues both reflect and elicit representations of social kinds and thus can facilitate their spread across generations and communities. I will illustrate these processes drawing on a series of in-person and online laboratory studies examining the mechanisms underlying the transmission of these beliefs from speaker to listener, as well as on a large field experiment in the New York City Public Schools and on-going longitudinal and cross-cultural work testing how these processes unfold in children’s daily lives.