Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Managing cultural diversity: Exploring the role of similarity and *difference in social contexts
by Jacobs, Katherine E., Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2005, 99; 3339915
Abstract (Summary)

In an increasingly global society, managing cultural diversity is a very important challenge. Public policy addresses this challenge by providing guidelines for relations between groups. However, policy, in order to be effective, must be consistent with basic principles of human psychology. The science of psychology has much to say about the formation of and dynamics between groups. In particular, we know from psychology that there are certain limits to human perception and regular patterns in social behavior that play an important role in how individuals and groups relate to others. We also know from psychology that there are flexible areas where the perception of others and patterns of social behavior are susceptible to the influence of environment. The central objective of this dissertation is to test and explore some of the psychological assumptions underlying policies for managing cultural diversity.

Study One was designed to explore how similarity on the basis of ideology as opposed to similarity on the basis of ethnicity impacts social relationships in highly politicized contexts. Results indicate ideology can be a highly powerful tool in bringing even widely diverse groups together. Study two explored possible dilemmas the similarity attraction relationship may pose for policies that rely upon incentive to encourage harmonious association with dissimilar others. Results support the similarity attraction relationship and indicate greater attention needs to be paid to policy that provides incentive to encourage contact with dissimilar others. Finally, Study three explores the experience of similarity and dissimilarity in social contexts by testing the cognitive and emotional expectations of contact with similar/dissimilar others. Results indicate both positive and negative experiences are associated with contact with dissimilar others and greater research attention is needed in this area.

The sum of these studies suggests that with greater attention to research conscious of the changing times, there is hope for both the development of policy for managing cultural diversity that can improve harmony within our global village and the development of Psychology's relevancy as an instrument guiding our understanding of the complexities of the human condition in an age of diversity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moghaddam, Fathali M.
School: Georgetown University
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology
Keywords: Cultural, Cultural diversity, Difference, Diversity, Policy, Similarity, Similiarity-attraction, Social contexts
Publication Number: 3339915
ISBN: 978-0-549-93963-4
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