When “Sesame Street” went on the air in 1969, its creators hoped that it would promote the intellectual development of preschoolers, especially poor and minority children. Five years later, however, studies showed that “Sesame Street” actually widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, with middle-class viewers reaping more cognitive gains than their lower-class counterparts.

In the February-March 2005 issue of American Psychologist, Cornell University researchers Stephen J. Ceci and...

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