How do children learn social categorization and intergroup attitudes when they grow up in divided contexts?

Edona Maloku, Belle Derks, Colette Van Laar, Naomi Ellemers, Jocelyn Dautel, Laura K. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explored how group preferences develop among children living in the post-conflict context of Kosovo and how this development shapes children’s willingness to be close to their outgroup peers among the segregated majority (ethnic Albanian) and minority (ethnic Serb) members. The study was conducted in four ethnically divided primary schools, with 220 participants aged 6-10. Children played a series of games and tasks which measured ethnic ingroup preference, preference for the Kosovar flag, and willingness to be close to ethnic outgroup children. Children in this context where a new national Kosovar identity is developing following independence display very high ethnic ingroup preferences. Kosovar Serb children showed low willingness to engage with outgroup members and remained constant with age, while Kosovar Albanian children’s willingness to engage with the outgroup was present among younger children but diminished with age. Results add to literature on the underlying process by which identity develops among segregated majority and minority who have little or no opportunities to interact. Lack of intergroup contact hinders the development of more positive intergroup relations. To build a peaceful coexistence, programs which connect the segregated schools and facilitate inter-group contact, especially among the younger age groups, are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number281
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 04 May 2023


  • children
  • conflict
  • social categories
  • Kosovo
  • majority
  • minority

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'How do children learn social categorization and intergroup attitudes when they grow up in divided contexts?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this