Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Talking politics at the dinner table: stereotypes in children’s political choices

Christ’l De Landtsheer, Lieuwe Kalkhoven, Wannes Heirman, Philippe De Vries

Full Text: PDF



This study examines how primary school aged or middle childhood and pre-teens are led in their (potential) voting behavior by stereotypes (gender, age, ethnicity of candidates) and by social background (parents’ political preferences and voting behavior, children’s media use and memberships, political discussion at home). The experimental design of this study is not one that is often encountered in childhood research. In a fictitious research setting Belgian 6 to 13-year-old children (N = 264) voted for their ‘ideal’ mayor, based on candidates’ physical appearances. Belgian original children were found to prefer young Belgian origin mayoral candidates with European looks of their own gender. The results of this experiment furthermore indicated that, besides of parents’ political preferences and education, domestic political discussion is of significant influence on children’s choices regarding ethnicity, gender or age of political candidates.

Keywords: Political socialization, children, voting behavior, candidate evaluations, political stereotyping, parents’ political preferences, Belgium.


Bibliography: De Landtsheer, Christ’l/Kalkhoven, Lieuwe/Heirman, Wannes/De Vries, Philippe: Talking politics at the dinner table: stereotypes in children’s political choices, PCS, 1-2-2016, pp. 143-156.