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IACM 2023

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The Constraint of Diversity: Diversity Discourse Invokes Categorization Threat

Diversity approaches often highlight the virtues and perspectives that underrepresented group members bring to their organizations to assure them of their acceptance and value. But not all underrepresented group members want to bring their social identities to work. The present research finds an ironic and unintended consequence of such diversity approaches for underrepresented group members. Two experiments find that multicultural diversity policies (versus colorblind) invoke pressure for underrepresented group members to act as prototypes of their group, which leads to categorization threat (i.e., unwanted application of a group membership) for less identified racial minorities. This categorization threat in turn relates to less engagement in pro-diversity behavior. We conclude with implications for diversity research and the nature of identity threat.

Charles Chu
Boston University

Naomi Fa-Kaji
University of Virginia


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