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Children With Down Syndrome Faced With Implicit Stereotyping Based On Facial Features

April 5, 2012

Photographs of children with Down syndrome elicit less positive attitudes than photographs of typically developing children do, reports new research published Apr. 4 in the open access journal PLoS ONE. This effect was strongest for photographs of children with features that are “strongly typical” of Down syndrome, and somewhat weaker for images that were more “weakly typical.”

Although photographs of children with Down syndrome are typically viewed as more positive (“friendly” and “affectionate”) than negative (“stupid”), the results of this study reveal underlying stereotypes and negative attitudes about people with Down syndrome at an implicit level, the authors write.

This negative bias is observed even among professional caregivers working with intellectually disabled persons. The work was led by Claire Enea-Drapeau of Aix-Marseille Univ. and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, Fédération de Recherche 3C: Comportement-Cerveau-Cognition, Marseille, France.

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