Annalee Newitz in io9.com:
People with Williams Syndrome lack 26 genes found in a typical human genome. As a result they are inordinately friendly, and experience no social anxiety. Now a new study reveals that they may also be free of racial bias.
Over at Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong talks about the new study, published this week in Current Biology. Yong writes:
Santos compared the behaviour of 20 white children with Williams syndrome, aged 7 to 16, and 20 typical white children of similar backgrounds and mental ages. To do so, she used a test called the Preschool Racial Attitude Measure (PRAM-II), which is designed to tease out traces of gender or racial biases in young children.
PRAM-II consists of a picture book where every page includes a pair of people of different genders or skin types. The researcher tells a selection of stories to accompany the images and the children have to point to the person whom they think the story is about. As they hear positive or negative adjectives, they reveal any underlying racial bias if they point to light-skinned or dark-skinned people, or men or women, more frequently.
The typical children showed a strong tendency to view light-skinned people well and dark-skinned people poorly. Out of their responses, 83% were consistent with a pro-white bias. In contrast, the children with Williams syndrome only showed such responses 64% of the time, which wasn't significantly different from chance.