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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Role-Based Theory of Prejudice Accommodation
by Vial Vazquez, Andrea Celeste, Ph.D., Yale University, 2018, 244; 10957350
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation developed and tested a role-based framework drawing from role theory to understand how external factors contribute to the spread of bias in organizations. Using experimental social psychological methods, the twelve studies in this dissertation investigated why other people's prejudices can sometimes influence individuals' decisions and behaviors due to the demands of the decision maker role. Role theory posits that there are certain expectations associated with specific roles, and the roles that people occupy can determine their attitudes and behaviors. Across studies, participants placed in a decision-making role in charge of hiring selections accommodated the prejudices of relevant third parties in their decisions (i.e., the "third-party prejudice effect''). Specifically, consistent with the proposed model, in the studies described in Chapter 2, individuals in charge of selection decisions were significantly less likely to select a woman when a relevant third party was prejudiced against women. Chapter 3 extended this inquiry to novel, fictional groups, generalizing the third-party prejudice effect beyond the context of gender bias.

According to a role-based framework, concerns relevant to the decision maker role become highly salient in contexts of third-party prejudice, motivating those in charge of hiring selections to accommodate this prejudice in order to accomplish role-relevant goals. In particular, in the context of hiring selections, decision makers accommodate third-party prejudice without coercion because they engage in two types of considerations, focused (a) on maximizing performance (i.e.. task-focused concerns). and (b) on avoiding conflict or facilitating relations among the parties involved (i.e., interpersonal concerns). These task-focused and interpersonal concerns are relevant to the decision maker role and reflect well-established distinctions between instrumental and socioemotional dimensions of group processes. This proposed mechanism was experimentally supported. revealing that task-focused and interpersonal concerns significantly mediated the effect both in the context of gender prejudice (Chapter 2) as well as in a novel groups context (Chapter 3). Furthermore, in Chapter 2, experimentally reducing role-relevant concerns by manipulating task-focused considerations significantly reduced the accommodation of third-party prejudice against women.

In line with the notion that roles impact behavior above and beyond individual-level attitudes and beliefs, participants in two studies accommodated prejudice against women in their selections regardless of their personal endorsement of modern sexism and traditional gender stereotypes (Chapter 2). Participants similarly accommodated third-party prejudice against groups about which they knew very little, in contexts in which pre-existing biases or the endorsement of cultural stereotypes had little bearing on their selections (Chapter 3). Moreover, consistent with the proposition that roles shape behavior more strongly than social identity, participants across studies accommodated third-party prejudice in their decisions even when such prejudice was directed toward a social category in-group. A role-based framework can illuminate the institutional factors that produce social disparities, and can contribute to a growing understanding of the reasons why members of underrepresented groups sometimes appear to treat each other poorly in organizational contexts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dovidio, John F.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-B 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Behavioral Sciences, Psychology
Keywords: Decision-Making, Discrimination, Gender Bias, Prejudice, Role Theory, Social Influence
Publication Number: 10957350
ISBN: 978-0-438-27395-5
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