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CBE Spring Seminar Series featuring Naomi Isenberg

March 29 @ 4:00 PM 5:00 PM

Isenberg portrait

Doctoral Student
Dept. of Psychology
University of WI – Madison

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Using Positive Norms and Messages


Describing the ubiquity of implicit bias is common practice in diversity initiatives. However, this message communicates a negative norm that has the potential to be counterproductive. Communicating positive messages about diversity and inclusion is likely a more effective strategy. We ran three experiments to test this idea. In Experiments 1 and 2, we found that positive descriptive norms regarding peer pro-diversity attitudes and inclusive behaviors led to increases on a variety of intergroup attitude and behavioral intention outcomes. Experiment 3 was a randomized field experiment conducted across university classrooms. We found that a video promoting positive norms and values regarding diversity and inclusion in college classrooms led to higher final grades for female and LGBTQ+ students compared to students who did not watch the video. The results of these experiments provide support for how positive messaging around diversity and inclusion can motivate more positive attitudes and intentions toward diversity and inclusion and potentially improve outcomes for students from underrepresented groups. Important theoretical and practical implications of these findings will be discussed. 

1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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