When Good for Business is Not Good Enough: Effects of Pro-Diversity Beliefs and Instrumentality of Diversity on Intergroup Attitudes

Kauff, M. (FernUniversität Hagen, Germany), Schmid, K. (†ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University, Barcelona, Spain), Christ, O. (FernUniversität Hagen, Germany)

Debates about diversity are often dominated by discussions about the potential value of ethnic diversity. Prior research has shown that valuing diversity improves outgroup attitudes and behavior. Valuing diversity only because it is instrumental (i.e. holding pro-diversity beliefs), however, has also been criticized from an ethical standpoint for opening up the possibility that outgroups that are perceived as detrimental for group functioning are devalued. Following up, we hypothesise that positive effects of pro-diversity beliefs on outgroup attitudes are dependent on the actual instrumentality of outgroups. To test our hypothesis, we conducted three experimental studies. In Study 1 (N = 109), we manipulated the usefulness of interactions within ethnically diverse work teams. In Studies 2 (N = 318) and 3 (N = 345), we manipulated pro-diversity beliefs along with usefulness of interactions with refugees (Study 2) and foreign exchange students (Study 3). Results suggest that pro-diversity beliefs lead to more positive outgroup attitudes only after instrumental but not after non-instrumental interactions in diverse groups. In fact, pro-diversity beliefs can also deteriorate outgroup attitudes under certain conditions. Our research supports theoretical criticism on the business-case for diversity and shows that valuing diversity does not necessarily have positive effects on intergroup relations.

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