Investigating the relative salience of race, sex, and facial expressions of emotion among preschoolers : introducing a new facial categorization task
The present study was used to explore the relative salience of sex, race, and emotion expression among preschoolers using an author-developed facial categorization task. Forty-one children between the ages of 2.76 and 5.45 years (M-age = 4.09 years) completed the Choose-A-Picture task (CAP). Three conditions were created for the CAP to assess the relative salience of selected facial features using a competing stimuli approach: Emotion Expression vs. Sex, Emotion Expression vs. Race, and Race vs. Sex. In addition, two versions of the task were tested to investigate the influence of researcher instructions on children's categorization behaviors. The task successfully identified systematic (non-random) patterns of categorization for roughly 75% of preschoolers. Sex was the least salient facial characteristic, while race and emotion expression appeared to be of higher and relatively equal salience. Further elaboration of study findings and their implications are discussed.