Title

The Devil's in the Details: Abstract vs. Concrete Construals of Multiculturalism Have Differential Effects on Attitudes and Behavioral Intentions Toward Ethnic Minority Groups

Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Psychology

First Advisor

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Second Advisor

David Cort

Third Advisor

Lisa Harvey

Subject Categories

Psychology

Abstract

The current research integrates social cognitive theories of psychological construals and information processing with theories of social identity to identify the conditions under which multiculturalism helps versus hinders positive intergroup relations. Three experiments investigated how abstract vs. concrete construals of multiculturalism impact majority group members' attitudes and behavioral intentions toward ethnic minorities in the US. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that construing multiculturalism in abstract terms by highlighting its broad goals reduced majority group members' prejudice toward ethnic minorities by decreasing the extent to which diversity is seen as threatening the national group. However, construing multiculturalism in concrete terms by highlighting specific ways in which its goals can be achieved increased majority group members' prejudice toward minorities by amplifying the extent to which diversity is seen as threatening the national group. Experiment 3 then revealed that a different concrete construal that incorporates values and practices of both majority and minority groups reduced perceived threats to the national group and in turn attenuated prejudice and increased desire for contact with ethnic minorities. Collectively, these experiments demonstrate when and why multiculturalism leads to positive versus negative intergroup outcomes, while identifying new ways in which multiculturalism can be successfully implemented in pluralistic nations.

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