Wednesday February 27, 2013
1:00PM - 2:30PM
Group Homogeneity and Perceived Control: When Diversity¿s ¿Control Condition¿ Has Effects of its Own
Important questions about the functional value of diversity lie at the heart of increasingly wide-ranging and controversial debate among scholars and professionals alike. Though many people share a sense of moral responsibility to advocate for diversity, more than half a century of research evidence has produced few straightforward or consistent characterizations of its effects on group processes. I propose a simple distinction that may offer one reason why understanding the basis for group differences has been unexpectedly complex: group differences are sometimes driven by the independent effects of homogeneity, not diversity. I examine this possibility through a focus on one such hypothesized effect of homogeneity; namely, the capacity for racial homogeneity to make the outcomes of group tasks seem controllable, even more so than they actually are. I present three experiments in which White participants are randomly assigned to racially homogeneous (as compared to diverse or race-unspecified control) groups that will ostensibly face a group task. I then present a fourth experiment that explores potential implications of group homogeneity for trading behavior in an experimental stock market paradigm. Together, these findings raise the possibility of a re-conceptualization of the diversity literature given the capacity for both diversity and homogeneity to exert independent effects of their own.