Social identity contingencies: how diversity cues signal threat or safety for African Americans in mainstream institutions

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2008 Apr;94(4):615-30. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.94.4.615.


This research demonstrates that people at risk of devaluation based on group membership are attuned to cues that signal social identity contingencies--judgments, stereotypes, opportunities, restrictions, and treatments that are tied to one's social identity in a given setting. In 3 experiments, African American professionals were attuned to minority representation and diversity philosophy cues when they were presented as a part of workplace settings. Low minority representation cues coupled with colorblindness (as opposed to valuing diversity) led African American professionals to perceive threatening identity contingencies and to distrust the setting (Experiment 1). The authors then verified that the mechanism mediating the effect of setting cues on trust was identity contingent evaluations (Experiments 2 & 3). The power of social identity contingencies as they relate to underrepresented groups in mainstream institutions is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black People / psychology*
  • Cues*
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Female
  • Hierarchy, Social
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Prejudice*
  • Rejection, Psychology
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Values
  • Stereotyping
  • Trust