Nationality, Children and Favouritism

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news-graphics-2007-_653714a Good morning; there is a lot of debate recently about Britain being overly “pro-European” and not being anti-European. This article wishes to address this issue with empirical research that has been conducted on children’s sense of nationality, and how they view the superordinate nationality of Europeanism with a certain sense of scepticism; and would rather apply an ordinate nationality to their-selves. It will briefly outline what nationality is, and then, it will also discuss how in-group favouritism (typically labelled racism by the left wing) is actually quite a normal phenomenon in both young children and adults alike in countries.

Nationality is a highly complex societal – and self-label; societal in the sense that a child will have a social label of the nationality he or she is a member of applied to them by a peer, and the child will also apply the self-label of the nationality they attribute to their selves.

Within the UK; there used to be five national identities one could subscribe to. British, English, Northern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. The four latter identities make up the British identity.

Now we have got a sense of what identity is, this article will now turn its attention to the perceived Euro scepticism in British children, and research conducted to show that children do not commonly apply the label “European” to their selves. Research carried out by Barrett (2000) on nationality showed that as far as supranational terms such as “European” were concerned, these were not often chosen by children in the UK, and they [children] rarely place any importance on the so called “European” identity at any age. Thus, it can be concluded on the results of the research that British children hardly identify with the European identity at all! So, far from most British people being pro-EU as some like to postulate, research does suggest that young children view the European identity as non-important. And since views typical stay stable overtime, these children will remain Euro-Sceptic into adult life.

This paper will now turn its attention to in-group favouritism.

In-group favouritism is a common phenomenon. Generally speaking, in-group favouritism is instilled from a young age, and children in all countries generally prefer their own national groups over all other national groups. This bias has been found to occur at all ages from 6 to 15 years; and has been found in most European countries researched for in-group favouritism. (Barrett, 2005). However, to contrast this, Tajifel et al (1970, 1972) found that although in-group favouritism was present in countries like Austrian, Belgian Dutch, English, Italian, and Israeli children, Scottish children did not place preference on their own national group (NOTE : research carried out in the early 70s). However, recent research has revealed a different picture, with Scottish children exhibiting in-group favouritism much the same as other countries have. What must be pointed out however, is that while in-group favouritism is a common phenomenon, it does not mean that children dislike the other nationalities; indeed, children of all ages typically like all the others however, to a lesser extent than their own nationality.

What can be argued with the above research is that in-group favouritism is a common phenomenon across countries in the world.  So when certain people use the “race card”; we must bear in mind that we all prefer our own groups (such as; I am British, ergo, I will prefer the British say, to the French, and vice versa for the French), and that does not make people racist, as research shows children like other groups, however, to a lesser extent then our own.

What some members of society do is conflate race with nationality. Just because people dislike a nationality or religion does not mean you dislike race associated with the nationality or the religion.! As can be clearly seen above; in-group favouritism is a social norm. We all prefer our own groups to others. Even to the extent within Great Britain; you would have, say the English preferring the English above the Welsh or Scottish respectively.

Racism is used to shut down logical discourse about the problems facing Britain with regard to mass migration and radical Islam; do not let them win the argument.

Thank you for reading

Matthew Hopkins: student of Psychology.


Barrett, M. (2005) ‘The development of national identity in childhood and adolescence’, inaugural lecture presented at the University of Surry, Guildford, March 2000.

Barrett, M. (2005) ‘Children’s understanding of, and feelings about countries and national groups’ in Barrett, M. and Buchanan-Barrow, E. (eds) children’s understanding of society , Hove , Psychology Press.


Tajifel, H., Jahoa, G., Nemeth, C., Campbell, J. and Johnson, N. (1970) ‘The development of children’s preference for their own country: a cross-national study’, international journal of psychology, vol. 5, pp. 245-53.

  • thanksdellingpole

    Things used to be so much simpler before WWII, not much has changed, we just can’t say it out loud any more.

    Better days ahead I think, people are wisng up.

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