Even Babies Are a Little Racist; Handwashing Really Works

Discovered: Even babies are a little bit racist, when forced, handwashing really works, most college kids get help from their parents, and the south is aggressive. 

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Discovered: Even babies are a little bit racist, when forced, handwashing really works, most college kids get help from their parents, and the south is aggressive. 

  • Even babies are a little bit racist. There's been a lot of racism talk these days and here's a little scientific clue as to why our society's still dealing with conflicts based on skin color -- something a bunch of sociologists can tell you is a completely made up thing. Anyway, here we go. Racist might be a bit strong for a being that can't even talk. But at just 9 months old, babies showed biases in facial recognition. They aren't born with these biases, but by that age, babies were better able to recognize faces and emotional expressions of people of their race. All of this was based on brain activity measurements, since, again 9 month olds can't shout racist slurs, or anything like that. Five month olds did not show the same pattern, meaning they are learning this behavior somewhere. "These results suggest that biases in face recognition and perception begin in preverbal infants, well before concepts about race are formed. It is important for us to understand the nature of these biases in order to reduce or eliminate [the biases]," explains researcher Lisa Scott. On that nature point, we have a guess. TV? [Developmental Science]
  • Handwashing really works, especially when it's enforced. After a national campaign bombarded a hospital with reminders for employees to wash their hands, bacterial infections at that hospital decreased. Over the four-year period MRSA bacteraemia rates fell from 1.88 to 0.91 cases per 10,000 bed-days and C. difficile infection fell from 16.75 to 9.49 per 10,000 bed-days. That's a lot of science speak for: It worked! "What this study shows is that the cleanyourhands campaign, a centrally co-ordinated and funded strategy, produced sustained increases in the amounts of alcohol hand-rub and soap bought by hospitals, and that this in turn helped to reduce infection and improve health outcomes," explains researcher Sheldon Stone. [BMJ]
  • Most college Kids get help from mom and dad. This makes sense since college is super expensive and one can only work so much while also going to school. But for some hard stats: More than sixty percent receive some sort of financial help, with the average amount being around $7,500 per year. Consider: college tuition at private schools are hovering around the $40,000 per year mark. Perhaps least surprising: Rich kids get more than poor kids. "As expected, we found a large difference between high- and low-income families both in terms of whether or not they provided financial help to young adult children, and in terms of the amount they provided," explains researcher Patrick Wightman. "The gap is especially large for education related assistance," he continues. "While just 11 percent of low-income youth received tuition assistance from their parents, 66 percent of high-income youth did. And among those who did get help, kids from high-income families received an average of $12,877, compared to $5,788 for those from low-income families." But even though parents with less gave less, they gave a higher percentage of their salaries. [University of Michigan]
  • The South is aggressive. Previous research has proven that there is a (surprise!) North-South divide in "honor ideology," which demands that men be tough and courageous and respond with aggression when those qualities are called into question. But, research has now proven just how much more aggressive the South is than its neighbors up north. Researchers found high levels of honor ideology corresponded to high levels of aggression.  "For instance, one high scorer on the honor scale suggested that the only way to deal with radical Muslims is to use nuclear force, paying no mind to collateral damage," explains researcher Collin Barnes. Protecting honor is apparently worth nuclear warfare. [Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

Image via Shutterstock by Timothy Boomer. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.