Enhancing the Effects of Sexual Orientation Diversity Training: The Effects of Setting Goals and Training Mentors on Attitudes and Behaviors

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of goal-setting theory (Locke, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 3, 157–189, 1968; Locke and Latham, 1990, A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; Locke and Latham, American Psychologist, 57, 705–717, 2002) within a diversity training context to enhance training outcomes. In particular, the training focused on an understudied group—gay men and lesbians—and examined both the short- and long-term outcomes associated with diversity training.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Using experimental methods in a field setting, participants (college students) were randomly assigned to a 2(goal-setting condition: self-set goals and no goals) × 2(mentor goal condition: mentor goals and no mentor goals) factorial design, where behavioral and attitudinal data were collected at two points in time: 3 months and 8 months subsequent to training.

Findings

Participants who developed sexual orientation supportive goals reported more supportive behaviors and attitudes toward gay and lesbian individuals than those who did not. Sexual orientation supportive behaviors mediated the relationship between goal-setting and sexual orientation attitudes.

Implications

The pattern of results suggests that time was the key for participants to meet the goals that were set during the diversity training. Both behaviors and attitudes were influenced by the goal setting at 8 months, but not after 3 months. This study demonstrates the importance of measuring both behaviors and attitudes in assessing diversity training.

Originality/Value

This is one of the first studies to integrate goal-setting theory (Locke and Latham, 1990, A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall; Locke and Latham, American Psychologist, 57, 705–717, 2002) into the area of diversity training in an experimental field setting. We used a longitudinal design, addressing limitations of past research that usually examine short-term reactions to diversity training.

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Correspondence to Juan M. Madera.

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Madera, J.M., King, E.B. & Hebl, M.R. Enhancing the Effects of Sexual Orientation Diversity Training: The Effects of Setting Goals and Training Mentors on Attitudes and Behaviors. J Bus Psychol 28, 79–91 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-012-9264-7

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Keywords

  • Diversity training
  • Goal-setting
  • Mentoring
  • Discrimination
  • Prejudice
  • Sexual orientation