Explaining for Whom, How, When, and Why Diversity Training Works




Lindsey, Alex Paul

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Most organizations rely on diversity training to effectively leverage an ever-diversifying workforce. As a result, critical yet unanswered questions have emerged regarding for whom, how, when, and why diversity training works. Despite somewhat discouraging and inconsistent findings in this domain, no overarching theoretical framework exists to guide the science or practice of diversity training. Accordingly, the purpose of my dissertation is to develop and test a comprehensive model of diversity training effectiveness. Specifically, this model considers emotions and motivations as key, yet generally ignored, mediators in the process by which diversity training affects diversity-related attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions. This model also considers the trainee characteristics of trait empathy and social dominance orientation as moderators of diversity training effectiveness. To test this model empirically, I conducted two separate experiments, one online and one which remains in progress in the field. Overall, the results suggest that various diversity training activities can be effective via increasing motivation and promoting the appropriate emotional response in carefully framed and designed programs that appeal to particular types of people. These results and my conceptual model will guide future empirical research in the diversity training literature by explaining for whom, how, when, and why diversity training works when it is indeed effective. This model will also offer guidance to practitioners regarding how to effectively leverage diversity training exercises, what outcomes should be measured, when those outcomes should be measured, and what contextual and individual difference variables need to be in place for diversity training to be effective.



Psychology, Diversity, Diversity Training, Emotions, Goal Setting, Motivation, Perspective Taking