Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


How Much Diversity is Diversity?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Scott Highhouse, PhD

Second Advisor

Jennifer Gillespie, PhD (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Mary Hare, PhD (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Margaret Brooks, PhD (Committee Member)


The role that diversity plays in the workplace has increased over time as more companies adopt diversity management strategies in an effort to increase performance or attract new employees (Hays-Thomas, 2004). Little research has been directed, however, toward understanding how diversity perceptions are impacted by the amount of diversity present in the group. It is easy to identify occurrences when diversity is absent, but we know little about how much diversity is needed for a group to be perceived as diverse (Harrison and Klein, 2007). Drawing largely from research on judgment and decision making (Bazerman, 1993; Levin, Schneider, and Gaeth, 1998; Tversky and Kahneman, 1981) this paper examined how the amount of diversity present and the way the diversity information is framed can influence people's perceptions of group diversity. These questions were examined in the context of two types of demographic diversity: gender and race. Results indicated that people perceived racial/ethnic diversity, described as the 'proportion of Blacks and Hispanics' in the workplace, as being more consistent with their idea of diversity and viewed the organization as making more effort toward managing diversity than when diversity was framed in any other population (i.e., women, men, Whites). Participants also demonstrated a preference for equality and judged the organization to be most successful at managing diversity when the minority and non-minority groups held an equal proportion in the population (i.e., 50%).