The tolerance benefits of multicultural experiences depend on the perception of available mental resources

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2018 Sep;115(3):398-426. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000125. Epub 2018 Jul 23.


[Correction Notice: An Erratum for this article was reported in Vol 115(3) of Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (see record 2018-40364-001). In the article, the legend labels for Figure 4 are missing. The correct labels are Regulated-writing for the black bar and Free-writing for the gray bar. All versions of this article have been corrected.] Multicultural experience has been shown to lead to greater intergroup tolerance via reduced need for cognitive closure (NFCC). However, the requisite metacognitive conditions that facilitate this effect have yet to be examined. In 6 studies, we systematically demonstrated that the ameliorative effects of multicultural experience on intergroup bias are achieved only when individuals perceived that they had sufficient mental resources. Mental resources were either (a) measured during the Hong Kong "Umbrella Revolution" (Study 1), (b) experimentally manipulated in the lab through a classic depletion task (Study 2), or (c) subjectively recalled (Studies 3, 4, 5, and 6). We further showed that the moderating effects of perceived resource availability on the tolerance benefits of multicultural experience were mediated by reduced levels of NFCC (Studies 1, 5, and 6). This effect was consistent across a variety of targeted outgroups (Mainland Chinese, Arabs, Russians, Blacks, Asian Americans, and homosexuals), regardless of whether multicultural experience was measured or manipulated, and across samples (Hong Kongers, Jewish Israelis, and U.S.-born Americans). Overall, by integrating the literature on multicultural experiences with that on perceived resource depletion, we demonstrate the state-dependent nature of the advantages of multicultural experiences as well as afford a more nuanced view of the downstream influence of perceived mental depletion. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Perception*