Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 605–617 | Cite as

The Impact of Method, Motivation, and Empathy on Diversity Training Effectiveness

  • Alex LindseyEmail author
  • Eden King
  • Michelle Hebl
  • Noah Levine



The purpose of this paper is to examine method, motivation, and individual difference variables as they impact the effectiveness of a diversity training program in a field setting.


We conducted a longitudinal field experiment in which participants (N = 118) were randomly assigned to participate in one of three diversity training methods (perspective taking vs. goal setting vs. stereotype discrediting). Eight months after training, dependent measures on diversity-related motivations, attitudes and behaviors were collected.


Results suggest the effectiveness of diversity training can be enhanced by increasing motivation in carefully framed and designed programs. Specifically, self-reported behaviors toward LGB individuals were positively impacted by perspective taking. Training effects were mediated by internal motivation to respond without prejudice, and the model was moderated by trainee empathy.


These findings serve to demonstrate that diversity training participants react differently to certain training methods. Additionally, this study indicates that taking the perspective of others may have a lasting positive effect on diversity-related outcomes by increasing individuals’ internal motivation to respond without prejudice. These effects may be particularly powerful for training participants who are low in dispositional empathy.


This study is among the first to examine trainee reactions to diversity training exercises focused on different targets using different training methods. Additionally, we identify an important mediator (internal motivation to respond without prejudice) and boundary condition (trainee empathy) for examining diversity training effectiveness.


Diversity training Motivation Empathy Perspective taking Goal setting Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alex Lindsey
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eden King
    • 1
  • Michelle Hebl
    • 2
  • Noah Levine
    • 2
  1. 1.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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