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

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design

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.

Findings

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.

Implications

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.

Originality/Value

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.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Bäckström, M., & Björklund, F. (2007). Structural modeling of generalized prejudice. Journal of Individual Differences, 28, 10–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bohner, G., & Dickel, N. (2011). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 391–417.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Brown, K. G. (2006). Using computers to deliver training: which employees learn and why? Personnel Psychology, 54, 271–296.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Crandall, C. S., & Eshleman, A. (2003). A justification-suppression model for the expression and experience of prejudice. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 414–446.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Dudley, M. G., & Mulvey, D. (2009). Differentiating among outgroups: Predictors of congruent and discordant prejudice. North American Journal of Psychology, 11, 143–156.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Esen, E. (2005). 2005 Workplace diversity practices: Survey report. Society for human resource management.

  10. Festiner, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Festinger, L., & Carlsmith, J. M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of forced compliance. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58, 203–210.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Harackiewicz, J. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1993). Achievement goals and intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 904–915.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: The Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hayes, A. F. (in press). An Index and Test of Linear Moderated Mediation. Multivariate Behavioral Research.

  20. Herek, G. M. (1984). Attitudes toward lesbians and gay men: A factor analytic study. Journal of Homosexuality, 10, 39–51.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Hogg, M. A., & Terry, D. J. (2000). Social identity and self-categorization processes in organizational contexts. Academy of Management Review, 25, 121–140.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Hojat, M. (2009). Ten approaches for enhancing empathy in health and human services cultures. Journal of health and human services administration, 31, 412–450.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Latham, G. P. (1997). Overcoming mental models that limit research on transfer of training in organizational settings. Applied Psychology, 46, 371–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Parker, S. K., & Axtell, M. C. (2001). Seeing another viewpoint: Antecedents and outcomes of employee perspective taking. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 1085–1100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Plant, E. A., & Devine, P. G. (1998). Internal and external motivation to respond without prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 811–832.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Preacher, K. J., & Kelley, K. (2011). Effect size measures for mediation models: quantitative strategies for communicating indirect effects. Psychological Methods, 16, 93–115.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  42. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Toosie, M. (2006). A new look at long term labor force projections to 2050. Monthly Labor Review, 129, 19–39.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Wexley, K. N., & Baldwin, T. T. (1986). Post-training strategies for facilitating positive transfer: An empirical exploration. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 503–520.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alex Lindsey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

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

Download citation

Keywords

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