"What about me?" Perceptions of exclusion and whites' reactions to multiculturalism

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Aug;101(2):337-53. doi: 10.1037/a0022832.


A 5-study investigation of reactions of dominant group members (i.e., White Americans) to diversity (relative to racial minority reactions) provides evidence of implicit and explicit associations between multiculturalism and exclusion and of a relationship between perceived exclusion and reactions to diversity. In Study 1, Whites but not racial minorities were faster in an implicit association task at pairing multiculturalism with exclusion than with inclusion. This association diminished in Study 2 through a subtle framing of diversity efforts as targeted toward all groups, including European Americans. In Study 3, in a "Me/Not Me" task, Whites were less likely than minorities to pair multiculturalism concepts with the self and were slower in responding to multiculturalism concepts. Furthermore, associating multiculturalism with the self (Study 3) or feeling included in organizational diversity (Study 4) predicted Whites' endorsement of diversity and also accounted for the oft-cited group status difference in support for diversity initiatives. Study 5 showed that individual differences in need to belong moderated Whites' interest in working for organizations that espouse a multicultural versus a color-blind approach to diversity, with individuals higher in need to belong less attracted to organizations with a multicultural approach. Overall, results show that the purportedly "inclusive" ideology of multiculturalism is not perceived as such by Whites. This may, in part, account for their lower support for diversity efforts in education and work settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Prejudice
  • Reaction Time
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Perception*
  • United States
  • Young Adult