Explaining for Whom, How, When, and Why Diversity Training Works

Alex Lindsey

Major Professor: Eden B King, PhD, Department of Psychology

Committee Members: Seth Kaplan, Jose Cortina

Robinson Hall B, #213
April 22, 2016, 12:30 PM to 09:30 AM


Most organizations rely on diversity training to effectively leverage an ever-diversifying workforce. As a result, critical yet unanswered questions have emerged regarding for whom, how, when, and why diversity training works. Despite somewhat discouraging and inconsistent findings in this domain, no overarching theoretical framework exists to guide the science or practice of diversity training. Accordingly, the purpose of my dissertation is to develop and test a comprehensive model of diversity training effectiveness. Specifically, this model considers emotions and motivations as key, yet generally ignored, mediators in the process by which diversity training affects diversity-related attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions. This model also considers the trainee characteristics of trait empathy and social dominance orientation as moderators of diversity training effectiveness. To test this model empirically, I conducted an experimental field study with several measurement time points. The results of this study, how they support or refute my model, and the implications for diversity science more broadly, will be presented and discussed. This model will guide future empirical research in the diversity training literature by explaining for whom, how, when, and why diversity training works when it is indeed effective. This model will also offer guidance to practitioners regarding how to effectively leverage diversity training exercises, what outcomes should be measured, when those outcomes should be measured, and what contextual and individual difference variables need to be in place for diversity training to be as effective as it possibly can be.


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