Nav: Home

Future teachers more likely to view black children as angry, even when they are not

July 06, 2020

A new study of prospective teachers finds that they are more likely to interpret the facial expressions of Black boys and girls as being angry, even when they are not. This is significantly different than how the prospective teachers interpreted the facial expressions of white children.

The authors coined the term "racialized anger bias" after an earlier study found similar results in prospective teachers' judgments of Black and white adults. These new results indicate there is also racialized anger bias against Black children.

"Racialized anger bias means that people are seeing anger where none exists," says Amy Halberstadt, corresponding author of the study and a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. "We saw this happening to Black adults in earlier research. Now this finding highlights the urgent need to address conscious and unconscious bias in educators.

"The level of bias we found here could have significant adverse effects on children in classrooms. We already know that Black students experience many more suspensions, expulsions and disciplinary actions than white students, often for the same behavior. And this study suggests that misperceiving anger - even at an unconscious level - could play a significant role in that disparity."

For the study, the researchers surveyed 178 prospective teachers from three teacher training programs in the Southeast. Eighty-nine percent of the study participants were women, and 70% of the participants were white. The overall composition of the group was consistent with the composition of public school teachers in the United States.

The prospective teachers were shown 72 short video clips of child actors' facial expressions, with each one displaying a different emotion. The video clips were divided equally between Black and white students and between boys and girls. The prospective teachers were asked to identify the emotion being displayed in each clip. The researchers were interested in the errors that were made, especially about perceiving anger when there was none.

Each video clip was carefully examined to ensure it included only the requested emotional expression and to be certain that no anger expression was slipping into other expressions being made. The prospective teachers were also asked to answer a series of questions designed to assess each participant's explicit racial biases and implicit - or subconscious - biases.

The study found that participants were 1.36 times more likely to exhibit racialized anger bias against Black children than against white children, meaning that they were that much more likely to incorrectly view a Black child as angry when the child was not actually making an angry facial expression. For boys, participants were 1.16 times more likely to mistake a Black boy's facial expressions for anger than a white boy's. Participants were 1.74 times more likely to mistake a Black girl's facial expression for anger than a white girl's.

"Although never statistically examined before, the misperceptions of Black girls' anger verifies qualitative research of Black girls' and women's experiences, that they too are seen as angry when they are not," Halberstadt says.

The researchers found that higher levels of explicit or implicit bias did not increase the likelihood of a prospective teacher exhibiting racial anger bias against Black children. However, higher levels of explicit or implicit bias did make it less likely that study participants would view White children as being angry.

"Essentially, we found that prospective teachers are more likely to view Black children as being angry, even when they're not," Halberstadt says. "And the more biased prospective teachers were, the more likely those prospective teachers were to give White children the benefit of the doubt. In other words, if the teacher had higher levels of explicit or implicit racial bias, they were a bit more likely to give white kids a 'free pass.'

"This study suggests anger bias against Black children is alive and well among future teachers, and might play a role in the disciplinary discrepancies we see in schools. As this seems to be another form of systemic racism, we need to find meaningful ways to address this type of bias. Otherwise we are doing a disservice to our kids."
The paper, "Racialized Emotion Recognition Accuracy and Anger Bias of Children's Faces," is published in the journal Emotion. The paper was co-authored by Alison Cooke and Dejah Oertwig, Ph.D. students at NC State; Shevaun Neupert, a professor of psychology at NC State; Pamela Garner, a professor of childhood studies at George Mason University; and Sherick Hughes, a professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The work was done with support from the William T. Grant Foundation.

North Carolina State University

Related Children Articles:

Black children with cancer three times less likely to receive proton radiotherapy than White children
A retrospective analysis led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital has found racial disparities in the use of the therapy for patients enrolled in trials.
The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: First Europe-wide study of children confirms COVID-19 predominately causes mild disease in children and fatalities are very rare
Children with COVID-19 generally experience a mild disease and fatalities are very rare, according to a study of 582 patients from across Europe published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children
- While most children infected with the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms, a subset requires hospitalization and a small number require intensive care.
How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.
Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.
Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.
Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.
Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.
Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).
Children with autism are in 'in-tune' with mom's feelings like other children
New research addresses limitations of prior autism spectrum disorder (ASD) studies on facial emotion recognition by using five distinct facial emotions in unfamiliar and familiar (mom) faces to test the influence of familiarity in children with and without ASD.
More Children News and Children Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.