Publication Date


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First Advisor

Fang, Sherry

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences


Current research seeks to determine when children first become aware of salient ethnic differences. It has been therorized that children's ethnic identity development follows the same sequence as that of cognitive development. The focus of this thesis is on children's ethnic identity development and the relationship of ethnic identity development to cognitive development. This thesis is based on literature on Piaget's theory on children's cognitive development and recent research on ethnic and identity development. It is done in accord with the current study, "Cognitive Development and The Perception of Skin Color in Young Children," by Dr. Shi-Ruei Sherry Fang, Human and Family Resources, Northern Illinois University. This study examines children's perception of the origin of skin color in relation to the concepts of causality and conservation. It also measures children's understanding of social identity and racial attitudes. It should be noted, here, that this study is still in process, and that all information and conclusions are based on observations of the data collection process, and not on final data analysis itself. Ethnic identity research flows over into many areas including research, policy making, social services, counseling, and health care, but more important is in the area of education. Approaches to promote positive ethnic identities and cross-group appreciation and respect were discussed. By understanding how children perceive and process information about ethnic differences, adults who work with children can create an environment and experiences that will maximize a child's positive ethnic identity and reduce negative attitudes toward others (Ramsey, 1987, p. 72).


Includes bibliographical references.||White text on black background.


20 pages




Northern Illinois University

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