The Demands of Diversity Messages: Strategic Self-Stereotyping Among Racial Minorities
Kirby, Teri Ann
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Although multicultural messages value and encourage the expression of group differences, this approach to diversity may ironically constrain racial minorities’ behavior and promote self-stereotyping. Self-stereotyping in multicultural workplaces may be particularly pronounced among weakly racially identified minorities who, compared to strongly identified minorities, are more willing to engage in identity-related self-presentational strategies to obtain desired outcomes. In four studies, online community samples of African American (Studies 1-4; N = 1,055) and White adults (Study 2; N = 1,586), who varied in their strength of racial identification, imagined interviewing at a company that either advocated managing diversity through multiculturalism or colorblindness or had no diversity message. When exposed to the multicultural company, African Americans presented themselves as more stereotypically African American (e.g., athletic and streetwise) than in the colorblind company, but only if they were weakly identified with their racial group. Weakly identified African Americans also felt more anxious and less like they could be themselves at the multicultural company compared to the colorblind company. White participants and strongly racially identified Black participants were unaffected by the company’s diversity message. These findings show that, despite their best intentions, organizations striving to be inclusive may paradoxically create pressure for some racial minorities to remain within the constraints of racial stereotypes, even if this is inconsistent with how they view themselves.
- Psychology