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Impacts of Diversity Perspective on Implicit and Explicit Inter-Group Attitudes

posted on 10.01.2017, 05:53 by Sally Richardson
The current thesis sought to understand the impacts of individuals’ diversity perspectives on inter-group relations. Specifically, research investigated how two diversity ideologies, multiculturalism (recognising and appreciating differences) and colour-blindness (emphasising inter-group similarities), influence implicit and explicit racial bias, stereotyping, and dehumanization. Additionally, previously un-researched outcomes (e.g., dehumanization, social identification, and social dominance orientation) were investigated to establish whether there are unintended psychological consequences associated with either ideological perspective. Lastly, these research aims were tested whilst controlling for effects of pre-existing racial attitudes and individual characteristics, to allow for more accurate assessments of the effects of ideological perspective.
   Across two experiments, Australian (Study 1, N = 79) and American (Study 2, N = 195) citizens received a message advocating a multicultural, a colour-blind, or no ideological perspective to improving inter-group relations, and then made judgments about racial and ethnic out-groups. Consistent with previous research, results suggest that multiculturalism is most effective at reducing implicit racial bias and that colour-blindness is prone to attitude suppression as opposed to positive attitude change. New discoveries indicate that emphasising differences between racial groups (i.e., multiculturalism) can prevent infra-humanization of out-group members, and increase social identification with racial out-groups whilst maintaining strong in-group identification. Contrary to previous research, results on implicit and explicit measures suggest ideological perspective may not be strongly related to the stereotyping attitudes one holds. Lastly, pre-existing racial attitudes and some personal characteristics (e.g., political views and national pride) predicted substantially more variance in outcomes than experimental condition, suggesting that individual differences should be controlled for when researching the effects of ideological perspectives.
       Despite promising findings relating to the multicultural perspective, conflicting findings regarding the effects of each perspective remain in the literature. Additionally, there are several unanswered questions regarding these ideological perspectives, such as: How they impact racial minorities, the effectiveness of different types of ideological manipulations (e.g., interventions versus poster advertisements), whether they work in the context of other diversity dimensions (e.g., religion, sexual orientation), and whether there are environmental conditions that can impede or facilitate positive effects of multiculturalism and colour-blindness.
   In conclusion, whilst both past research and findings from this thesis suggest there is a subtle trend emerging in support of the multicultural approach representing a better path to racial and ethnic equality, we encourage researchers to continue thoroughly and critically evaluating both perspectives, so the question of whether either approach achieves its full objective of positive inter-group relations can be satisfactorily answered.


Principal supervisor

Matthew Fuller Tyszkiewicz

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychological Sciences


Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences

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