Social consensus influences ethnic diversity preferences

Publication year: 2018

Bursell, Moa , Fredrik Jansson

Forthcoming in Social Influence. Published online: DOI: 10.1080/15534510.2018.1540358.


There is widespread segregation between workplaces along ethnic lines. We expand upon previous research on segregation and social influence by testing the effect of the latter on personal diversity preferences, specifically in employees’ selection into hypothetical workplaces. In a survey study with 364 European American respondents in three waves, participants complied with social consensus preferences for either more or less workplace diversity. The new preference was sufficiently internalized to be retained largely unaltered a week later. Simulations suggest a self-reinforcing effect, where accurate social consensus information may be sufficient to change preferences. Given that initial choices were polarized, perceived social consensus can vary highly between people in society, and influencing this perception may feed back into greater acceptance of minorities.

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