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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bäckström, M., & Björklund, F. (2007). Structural modeling of generalized prejudice. Journal of Individual Differences, 28, 10–17.
Batson, C. D., Polycarpou, M. P., Harmon-Jones, E., Imhoff, H. J., Michener, E. C., Bednar, L. L., et al. (1997). Empathy and attitudes: Can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group improve feelings toward the group? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 105–118.
Bezrukova, K., Jehn, K. A., & Spell, C. S. (2012). Reviewing diversity training: where we have been and where we should go. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 11, 207–227.
Bohner, G., & Dickel, N. (2011). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 391–417.
Brown, K. G. (2006). Using computers to deliver training: which employees learn and why? Personnel Psychology, 54, 271–296.
Crandall, C. S., & Eshleman, A. (2003). A justification-suppression model for the expression and experience of prejudice. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 414–446.
Dovidio, J. F., ten Vergert, M., Stewart, T. L., Gaertner, S. L., Johnson, J. D., Esses, V., et al. (2004). Perspective and prejudice: Antecedents and mediating mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1537–1549.
Dudley, M. G., & Mulvey, D. (2009). Differentiating among outgroups: Predictors of congruent and discordant prejudice. North American Journal of Psychology, 11, 143–156.
Esen, E. (2005). 2005 Workplace diversity practices: Survey report. Society for human resource management.
Festiner, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58, 203–210.
Galinsky, A. D., & Ku, G. (2004). The effects of perspective-taking on prejudice: The moderating role of self-evaluation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 594–604.
Galinsky, A. D., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2000). Perspective-taking: Decreasing stereotype expression, stereotype accessibility, and in-group favoritism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 708–724.
Galisnky, A. D., Ku, G., & Wang, C. S. (2005). Perspective-taking and self-other overlap: Fostering social bonds and facilitating social coordination. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 8, 109–124.
Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
Goldberg, L. R., Johnson, J. A., Eber, H. W., Hogan, R., Ashton, M. C., Cloninger, C. R., et al. (2006). The international personality item pool and the future of public-domain personality measures. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 84–96.
Harackiewicz, J. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1993). Achievement goals and intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 904–915.
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: The Guilford Press.
Hayes, A. F. (in press). An Index and Test of Linear Moderated Mediation. Multivariate Behavioral Research.
Herek, G. M. (1984). Attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A factor analytic study. Journal of Homosexuality, 10, 39–51.
Hogg, M. A., & Terry, D. J. (2000). Social identity and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts. Academy of Management Review, 25, 121–140.
Hojat, M. (2009). Ten approaches for enhancing empathy in health and human services cultures. Journal of health and human services administration, 31, 412–450.
Holladay, C. L., Knight, J. L., Paige, D. L., & Quiñones, M. A. (2003). The influence of framing on attitudes toward diversity training. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 14, 245–263.
Janis, I. L., & King, B. T. (1954). The influence of role playing on opinion change. The journal of abnormal and social psychology, 49, 211–218.
Kulik, C. T., & Roberson, L. (2008). Common goals and golden opportunities: Evaluation of diversity education in academic and organizational settings. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 7, 309–331.
Latham, G. P. (1997). Overcoming mental models that limit research on transfer of training in organizational settings. Applied Psychology, 46, 371–375.
Legault, L., Gutsell, J. N., & Inzlicht, M. (2011). Ironic effects of antiprejudice messages how motivational interventions can reduce (but also increase) prejudice. Psychological Science, 22, 1472–1477.
Lindsey, A., King, E., McCausland, T., Jones, K., & Dunleavy, E. (2013). What we know and don’t: Eradicating employment discrimination 50 years after the Civil Rights Act. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 6, 391–413.
Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
Locke, E. A., Shaw, K. N., Saari, L. M., & Latham, G. P. (1981). Goal setting and task performance 1969–1980. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 125–152.
Macrae, C. N., Bodenhousen, G. V., Milne, A. B., & Jetten, J. (1994). Out of mind but back in sight: Stereotypes on the rebound. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 808–817.
Madera, J. M., King, E. B., & Hebl, M. R. (2013). Enhancing the effects of sexual orientation diversity training: the effects of setting goals and training mentors on attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Business and Psychology, 28, 79–91.
Madera, J. M., Neal, J. A., & Dawson, M. (2011). A strategy for diversity training focusing on empathy in the workplace. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 35, 469–487.
McConahay, J. B. (1986). Modern racism, ambivalence, and the modern racism scale. In J. F. Dovidio & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Prejudice, discrimination and racism (pp. 91–126). New York: Academic.
Parker, S. K., & Axtell, M. C. (2001). Seeing another viewpoint: Antecedents and outcomes of employee perspective taking. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 1085–1100.
Plant, E. A., & Devine, P. G. (1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 811–832.
Preacher, K. J., & Kelley, K. (2011). Effect size measures for mediation models: quantitative strategies for communicating indirect effects. Psychological Methods, 16, 93–115.
Ratcliff, J. J., Lassiter, G. D., Markman, K. D., & Snyder, C. J. (2006). Gender differences in attitudes toward gay men and lesbians: The role of motivation to respond without prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1325–1338.
Reber, R. A., & Wallin, J. A. (1984). The effects of training, goal setting, and knowledge of results on safe behavior: A component analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 27, 544–560.
Ruggs, E. N., Law, C., Cox, C. B., Roehling, M. V., Wiener, R. L., Hebl, M. R., et al. (2013). Gone fishing: I-O psychologists’ missed opportunities to understand marginalized employees’ experiences with discrimination. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 6, 39–60.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), Psychology of Intergroup Relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
Todd, A. R., Bodenhausen, G. V., Richeson, J. A., & Galinsky, A. D. (2011). Perspective taking combats automatic expressions of racial bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 1027–1042.
Toosie, M. (2006). A new look at long term labor force projections to 2050. Monthly Labor Review, 129, 19–39.
Wexley, K. N., & Baldwin, T. T. (1986). Post-training strategies for facilitating positive transfer: An empirical exploration. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 503–520.
Wexley, K. N., & Nemeroff, W. (1975). Effectiveness of positive reinforcement and goal setting as methods of management development. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 239–246.
About this article
Cite this article
Lindsey, A., King, E., Hebl, M. et al. The Impact of Method, Motivation, and Empathy on Diversity Training Effectiveness. J Bus Psychol 30, 605–617 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9384-3
- Diversity training
- Perspective taking
- Goal setting
- Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) populations