Psychological Inquiry, 21: 168–174, 2010Copyright C Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1047-840X print / 1532-7965 onlineDOI: 10.1080/1047840X.2010.492753 REPLY Diversity Science: Who Needs It? Victoria C. Plaut Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GeorgiaJurisprudence and Social Policy Program, University of California Berkeley School of Law, Berkeley, California What is diversity science and who needs it? This response addresses these and other themes and challenges raised by 11 excellent commentaries. Others include: What are the assumptions of diversity science regarding difference? Is diversity science constrained to the study of multiculturalism and colorblindness? Are race and ethnicity the only dimensions of difference worth studying? At which level of analysis should diversity scientists work and with which types of variables? Should diversity science address the experiences of both majority and minority groups? Should diversity science reside solely on U.S. soil? Is diversity science already in motion (i.e., has the train already left the station)? and Is social psychology a particularly useful site for diversity science? In this issue 11 commentaries reinforce the need Hamedani, 2007; Plaut & Markus, 2005; Wertsch,for a diversity science. Although their visions for a 1998). As such, it applies notions from cultural psy-comprehensive diversity science may differ, the funda- chology (A. P. Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett,mental message is clear: A science of diversity—built 1998; Shweder & Sullivan, 2003) to the study ofupon the foundation of a voluminous body of work intergroup relations (Mendoza-Denton & Espa˜ a, this non intergroup relations, stereotyping, and prejudice in issue).social psychology—will shed light on the existence, In addition to culture, diversity science also recog-interpretation, and construction of human difference nizes the power structures and relations that currentlyand the perpetuation of inequalities through these pro- exist in society (DiTomaso, this issue; see also DiTo-cesses. In addition to the recognition of this need and maso, Post, & Parks-Yancy, 2007; Dovidio, Saguy, &enthusiasm for a science of diversity, several themes or Gaertner, this issue; Guinote & Vescio, 2010; Sidaniuschallenges emerge from this excellent set of responses, & Pratto, 1999) and the perception thereof (S. T. Fiske,all of which generally center on the task of deﬁning di- Cuddy, Glick, & Xu, 2002). (I should note that any fa-versity science. voring of culture over structure in the description of a What is diversity science? In short, diversity science “sociocultural framework” in the target article was notis the study of the interpretation and construction of purposeful.) Especially when it comes to intergrouphuman difference—of why and how difference makes relations, culture and structure are equally importanta difference—within the context of existing, histori- components of sociocultural reality, as suggested in thecally shaped cultural and structural realities. It extends original graphical depiction of a sociocultural frame-the traditional social psychological paradigm, which work for intergroup relations (see Figure 1). In othertypically focuses on how key aspects of the immediate words, both core cultural ideas about difference (e.g.,situation inﬂuence behavior (Lewin, 1951; Ross & race and diversity) and about certain groups and struc-Nisbett, 1991). As explicated in the target article, tural realities shaped by history and by hierarchy getdiversity science requires a sociocultural framework, inscribed into practices and institutions (e.g., laws, ed-which expands the scope of social psychological ucation), which inform daily experiences (e.g., schoolanalysis to include the social structures and cultural and work), psychological functioning (e.g., emotionmeanings within which these immediate situations are and cognition), and behavior (e.g., discrimination). Inembedded (Adams, Biernat, Branscombe, Crandall, turn, these processes shape and reproduce cultural and& Wrightsman, 2008; M. Cole, 1996; Markus & structural patterns. 168
AUTHOR’S REPLY Figure 1. Diagram depicting a sociocultural framework for intergroup relations. Figure adapted from Markus and Kitayama (1994). However, a sociocultural framework for diversity it make a difference. Therefore, people cannot sim-science perhaps does purposefully “conﬂate” culture ply “get over” difference. Although difference can beand structure (DiTomaso, this issue). Although struc- a source of prejudice, discrimination, and inequality,ture and culture are not the same thing, structures it can also be a source of pride, identity, meaning,are animated by culturally derived ideas and ideolo- belongingness, and motivation. Moreover some differ-gies and don’t operate without them. Likewise, cul- ences are imposed, whereas others are claimed. Whatturally derived ideas and ideologies are informed by matters is what people, individually and collectively,power structures. (A school, e.g., is a conﬂuence of do with difference.ideas about the values, goals, and purposes of edu- Moreover, according to a diversity science perspec-cation, resources including books, desks, classrooms, tive, people’s beliefs about difference make a differ-and a hierarchically organized social structure of stu- ence. As argued by Knowles and Marshburn (this is-dents, teachers, principals, and superintendents. Core sue), “to understand diversity, one must understandcultural ideas about schooling—e.g., color-blind or how people understand diversity” (p. 134). This criti-multicultural—both inform and reﬂect the allocation cal component of diversity science is also underscoredof resources and power structure.) Therefore, the two in Sommers and Babbitt (this issue) and Rosner andare intimately intertwined. Notably, the distinction has Hong (this issue), both of which describe the reper-likewise been purposefully blurred in most modern cussions of certain lay theories on race and racism.deﬁnitions of culture (Atran, Medin, & Ross, 2005; For example, Rosner and Hong describe the inﬂuenceBourdieu, 1977; Giddens, 1984; Hall & Lamont, 2009; of essentialist versus social constructionist theories ofMoscovici, 1984; Sewell, 1992). race, with the latter producing more negative conse- What are the assumptions of diversity science re- quences for intergroup outcomes (see Hong, Chao, &garding difference? The widespread assumption in No, 2009, for a review; see also Williams & Eberhardt,general psychology—and therefore the starting point 2008).of psychological inquiry—is sameness (see Mendoza- The lay theories that receive the most attention inDenton & Espa˜ a, this issue; Shweder, 1990). In di- n the target article are multiculturalism and color blind-versity science it is difference (see Jones, this issue). ness. Several themes regarding these models of diver-Diversity science assumes that socially constructed dif- sity arise from the target article and commentaries.ferences exist—differences made meaningful by his- First, at least for White Americans, color blindnesstorically rooted structural and cultural patterns. Diver- appears to be the default model (Peery & Richeson,sity science assumes that difference is a process that is this issue), and this model has insidious consequencesbasic to social life, and that we need to understand it in for the experiences of minority groups. It is particu-its very contextually dependent manifestations (Moya larly problematic in the case of groups who already& Markus, 2010). It embraces an approach to issues of suffer from invisibility (Fryberg & Stephens, this is-difference long advanced by Jones (1972/1997): Dif- sue). Multiculturalism can have positive consequencesference makes a difference because individuals make for intergroup relations (Peery & Richeson, this issue), 169
PLAUTespecially if it has a “critical” component (Jones, this nation, language, to name a few) but also the inter-issue) or if minority groups are viewed positively section of multiple categories—whether ascribed or(Hahn, Judd, & Park, this issue). However, multicul- nonascribed, visible or invisible (see E. R. Cole, 2009;turalism may lack the ability to address entrenched in- Jones, this issue; Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008;equalities and needs to be examined further (Plaut, this Sommers & Babbitt, this issue). Of course, some differ-issue; Purdie-Vaughns & Ditlmann, this issue) includ- ences “matter” more than others, but there is little util-ing considering the conditions under which empha- ity in holding an Olympics of oppression (Jones, thissizing group differences has deleterious consequences issue).(Hahn et al., this issue). Dovidio et al. (this issue), on At which level of analysis should diversity scien-the basis of decades of research, suggest commonality tists work and with which types of variables? Be-as a valuable tool for improving intergroup relations, cause the construction of difference has implicationsbut they also carefully illustrate the complexity of com- at all levels of psychological functioning, diversity sci-monality (e.g., the potential for dominant groups to ence research could focus on intrapersonal, interper-wield commonality to resist change). They draw paral- sonal, or intergroup dynamics. For example, althoughlels between color-blind and multicultural models and some work may focus on implicit or explicit diver-one-group and dual-identity representations. Whether sity attitudes or values (Banaji & Greenwald, 1994;seen as color blindness or as adherence to a one-group Ryan, Hunt, Weible, Peterson, & Casas, 2007; Troppmodel, it seems fairly clear that dismissing the ex- & Bianchi, 2006), other work might focus on groupistence of subgroup identities advantages dominant heterogeneity (Philips, Northcraft, & Neale, 2006;groups to the detriment of disadvantaged groups. Yet Sommers, 2006), group norms (Plaut, Thomas, &the color blindness label indexes what the one-group Goren, 2009), interpersonal interaction (e.g., Dovidio,model perhaps obscures—an asymmetry in power or Kawakami, & Gaertner, 2002; Shelton, Richeson,the fact that something is being overlooked or pur- Salvatore, & Trawalter, 2005), or interracial relation-posely ignored or denied (Knowles & Marshburn, this ships (Page-Gould, Mendoza-Denton, & Tropp, 2008;issue). Color blindness indicates an embracing of a Shelton, Trail, West, & Bergsieker, 2010). Dependentcertain view of the world and a certain history of re- measures of interest to diversity scientists could in-lations between groups with consequences—including clude numerous aspects of psychological function-an erasure of the experiences of less powerful groups ing (affective, cognitive, behavioral, or even neural or(Fryberg & Stephens, this issue). physiological; see Rosner & Hong, this issue). Ac- Is diversity science constrained to the study of mul- cordingly, diversity science research could focus onticulturalism and colorblindness? Absolutely not. The a wide range of variables related to how people feel,systems of understandings and beliefs about diversity think and behave when confronted with difference orilluminated in the target article are only one of many the expectation of difference—to name just a few, trustpotential areas for diversity science to explore. These (Purdie-Vaughns, Steele, Davies, Ditlmann, & Crosby,dueling models are just one possible aspect of diversity 2008), change motivation (Saguy, Dovidio, & Pratto,science, and possibly a good starting point. The mod- 2008), voting intentions and policy support (Wolsko,els are example of ways in which diversity has been Park, & Judd, 2006), eye gaze (J. R. Crosby, Monin,enacted in institutions (particularly law) and they get & Richardson, 2008), interpersonal distance (Goff,at the heart of how Americans think about difference. Steele, & Davies, 2008), cardiovascular performanceThey are potentially a meta-narrative for diversity sci- (Mendes, Blascovich, Hunter, Lickel, & Jost, 2007),ence, but they should not deﬁne or constrain diversity and activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (in-science. dicating deliberative processing; see Amodio, 2008) or Are race and ethnicity the only dimensions of differ- in the rostral-ventral anterior cingulate cortex (associ-ence worth studying? No. Owing to powerful processes ated with emotion self-regulation; see Derks, Inzlicht,of racialization throughout history (Omi & Winant, & Kang, 2008). If diversity science is conducted by1994), race and ethnicity have become necessary sites psychologists, we can expect to see a general disci-of inquiry, at least in the United States. But as noted plinary commitment to understanding individual psy-both explicitly and implicitly in several of the com- chological tendencies (a topic to which I return next).mentaries and in the target article, they are not the But we should also expect a tighter connection be-only dimensions of difference on which to base re- tween these variables and individuals’ social worlds,search in diversity science. Because the focus of di- or greater attention to the content of those worlds (e.g.,versity science is the construction of difference, its Weisbuch, Pauker, & Ambady, 2009).scope must include inquiry into dimensions of differ- Should diversity science address the experiencesence that lie outside of the traditional categories of race of both majority and minority groups? Yes. Diversityand ethnicity. This means not only studying the expe- science holds the potential to uncover aspects of therience of other dimensions of difference (e.g., gender, dominant group experience and identity that help todisability, class, sexual orientation, religion, region, reinforce systems of inequality (e.g., “White identity170
AUTHOR’S REPLYpolitics”; Knowles & Marshburn, this issue), the expe- also needed within Latin American, Asian, and Africanrience of traditionally marginalized or disadvantaged countries.groups (e.g., African Americans; Purdie-Vaughns & Is diversity science already in motion (i.e., has theDitlmann, this issue), or on the experiences of those train already left the station)? Yes. Diversity sciencethat have been ignored or rendered invisible by dom- has already taken hold. It permeates classes beinginant approaches (e.g., American Indians, Fryberg & taught within psychology (e.g., see Purdie-VaughnsStephens, this issue; intersectional identities such as & Ditlmann, this issue), many social psychologists’Black women; Jones, this issue; Sommers & Babbitt, research programs (see all articles, this issue), top-this issue). Fryberg and Stephens explicitly use a diver- ics of symposia at national conventions (e.g., Banaji,sity science approach to highlight the powerful ways Greenwald, & Steele’s symposium “Launching a Di-in which colorblindness impedes the equal opportunity versity Science” at the 2007 annual meeting of theof self-development and therefore constrains the op- American Psychological Association) and universitiesportunities and psychological functioning of disadvan- (Columbia University’s Science of Diversity Sympo-taged groups—particularly American Indians. Purdie- sium, 2006), interdisciplinary research centers and re-Vaughns and Ditlmann suggest that fostering “identity search initiatives (e.g., Northwestern University’s Cen-safety” might provide the best chance for leveling the ter on the Science of Diversity, the University of Geor-playing ﬁeld of life opportunities (see also Markus, gia’s Center for Research and Engagement in Diver-Steele, & Steele, 2000). sity, UC Berkeley’s Diversity Research Initiative) and Should diversity science reside solely on U.S. soil? organizing themes or graduate areas of specializationAbsolutely not. The focus on the United States in the in psychology departments (e.g., University of Wash-target article stemmed from a perceived need to re- ington). As demonstrated by an informal coding ofﬂect the very sociocultural perspective being advanced articles in major psychology/social psychology jour-in the article. The recognition that both historically nals (excluding award articles), even the number ofgrounded sociocultural realities and psychological pro- articles with social identity “diversity” in the abstractcesses may differ across cultures was precisely the has increased substantially within psychology (see Fig-reason for narrowing the scope to the United States for ure 2). Of course, not using the word diversity doesthe purposes of the article. Although not necessarily not preclude research or initiatives from qualifyingraised as a critique, the commentaries make clear the as diversity science, but coding for diversity is oneneed for sociocultural analysis of intergroup relations way to generally capture the presence of a diversityin other countries and the usefulness of a comparative perspective.approach (Hahn et al., this issue). Moreover, Purdie- Is social psychology a particularly useful site forVaughns and Ditlmann highlight the fact that basic diversity science? Yes. The strong and necessary con-assumptions about pluralism are likely to differ across tribution of social psychology to diversity science iscultures and therefore diversity science should not take demonstrated not only through the target article buta one (American) size ﬁts all approach. Hahn et al. (this also in the commentaries. As Sommers and Babbittissue) provide compelling discussion of why it is im- (this issue), highlighting the power of beliefs and mis-portant to take a nation’s cultural stance on identity placed assumptions about diversity, state, “The abil-into account when analyzing relations between minor- ity to support, or refute lay intuition regarding humanity and majority groups—echoed in Purdie-Vaughns nature is one of the calling cards of psychological—and Ditlmann. They compare Germany with the United and, in particular, social psychological—research” (p.States, arguing that multiculturalism will fare worse 164). If diversity science is built in part upon a desirein a nation state where national identity is associated to understand how people understand human diversitywith ethnic heritage rather than with more permeable (Knowles & Marshburn, this issue), then social psy-boundaries such as political values or ideology. In ad- chology has a lot to contribute. In addition, Dovidiodition, Dovidio et al. (this issue) describe fascinating et al. (this issue) make the important point that “to un-intergroup relations research they have recently con- derstand the human processes that contribute to struc-ducted in other countries, including Israel and India. tural stability or change may require a deep knowledgeRosner and Hong (this issue) effectively advocate for a of the role of social cognition, representations, and con-more global perspective for diversity science, arguing sequent motivations that can be found ‘inside biasedthat diversity science “might incorporate our increas- individual minds”’ (p. 113). Here I would add thatingly diverse world and topics like international inter- we should consider that individual bias is an impor-group relations, terrorism, religion, and more” (p. 162). tant but not necessary condition for the perpetuation ofIt bears noting that most intergroup relations research inequality (Bonilla-Silva, 2003) and that “basic” pro-coming from other countries has been conducted in Eu- cesses inside the mind form in dynamic interaction withropean countries. Although such work makes impor- particular worlds outside the mind (Mendoza-Dentontant contributions to diversity science, more research is & Espa˜ a, this issue; Shweder, 1990). n 171
PLAUT Figure 2. Number of journal article abstracts containing social identity “diversity” in social psychology and related journals since 1970s. But these are relatively small intradisciplinary dif- issue) or visibility and privilege (Knowles & Marsh-ferences in analytical perspective. The basic point burn, this issue). As many of the commentators aptlymade by Dovidio et al.—of Mind as mediator—is ex- point out, my argument is not that psychology shouldactly what distinguishes a psychological perspective stray from studying the mind. Rather, when it comesfrom a sociological one. As DiTomaso (this issue) to difference (and as Mendoza-Denton & Espa˜ a, this npoints out, a psychological diversity science, for bet- issue, assert, to psychological functioning in general),ter or worse, essentially embraces a “micro”-level ap- we need to recognize that these processes are not ﬁxedproach. I would not suggest that psychologists doing or natural and enlarge the scope of inquiry to includediversity science stray from this approach or aban- the sociocultural.don “the concept of the person” (Mendoza-Denton Who needs diversity science? Diversity science is& Espa˜ a, this issue), but I would suggest that an n an engaged science—a science engaged with socialinterdisciplinary approach—intersecting with sociol- problems relevant to big psychological questions thatogy (DiTomaso, this issue; Oishi, Kesebir, & Snyder, revolve around difference. These may range from in-2009), anthropology (see Mendoza-Denton & Espa˜ a, n terpersonal conﬂict to institutional discrimination tothis issue), political science (Hahn et al., this is- massacre and genocide. Diversity science calls for cur-sue), and other disciplines—would strengthen diversity rent research in social psychology to matter more—byscience. being tied to speciﬁc contexts, speciﬁc problems, and Social psychology, therefore, can be an important speciﬁc policy decisions they can inform. These havecontributor to diversity science. After all, it is the not been our strengths as a ﬁeld, despite the fact thatmind, in interaction and constant engagement with they shaped the beginnings of the discipline (Lewin,other minds (and with the cultural and structural prod- 1946). In other words, diversity science expands theucts of those minds), that formulates categories and content and reach of social psychology, establishes it asdecides what is “in” and what is “out” (Dovidio et al., a hub, and increases its relevance. For some that mightthis issue; Peery & Richeson, this issue). The mind mean ﬁeldwork (e.g., Cialdini, 2009; Paluck, 2009);re-presents “race” and “diversity”—how we should go for some it might mean linking ideas about differenceabout thinking about and reacting to human differ- in people’s minds to ideas about difference in people’sences (see Hahn et al., this issue; Rosner & Hong, worlds (e.g., Goff, Eberhardt, Williams, & Jackson,this issue; Sommers & Babbitt, this issue). The mind, 2008). Yet for others it might mean controlled labo-in constant interaction with the social world, shapes ratory experiments that as much as possible take intoracial and ethnic identity (Jones, this issue), and in- consideration their cultural and structural milieu (e.g.,spires the rationalization of inequality (Knowles & Purdie-Vaughns et al., 2008; see also Heine, 2007, forMarshburn, this issue). And the mind processes ex- cultural psychology experiments). For others in mightperiences of social environments—whether marked by mean harnessing the potential of emerging methodolo-invisibility (Fryberg & Townsend, this issue) and so- gies (Rosner & Hong, this issue). A diversity sciencecial identity threat (Purdie-Vaughns & Ditlmann, this does not require a fundamental shift in methodology172
AUTHOR’S REPLYbut rather careful and creative use, combination, and Acknowledgmentsextension of current ones. To date, social psychology has played a relatively I thank Matt Goren, Tyrone Rivers, and Melissalimited role in shaping discourse and policy on di- Brown for invaluable research assistance, Hazelversity (see F. J. Crosby, Iyer, Clayton, & Down- Rose Markus, Jodi Treadway, Kecia Thomas, Roberting, 2003). One the most signiﬁcant recent contribu- Bartlett, and Alana Conner for invaluable comments,tions of psychology to matters of race and law is the and Leslie Stone for invaluable manuscript preparationburgeoning literature on implicit bias (see, e.g., Green- assistance.wald & Krieger, 2006; Kang, 2005; see Borgida &Fiske, 2008, for other key contributions). Althoughthis contribution represents an important step in bridg- Noteing legal structures and psychological reality, it paintsan incomplete picture of what diversity science has to Address correspondence to Victoria C. Plaut,offer. Diversity science research could also shed con- University of California—Berkeley, School of Law,siderable light on “constantly shifting boundaries of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, 591realm of equality” and “different notions of equality’s Simon Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-7200. E-mail:meaning” (Harris, 2000, p. 1929) and on the “elusive email@example.com of discrimination” (Moran, 2003, p. 2367). AsPeery and Richeson (this issue) suggest, diversity sci-ence could also illuminate the ways in which law andindividuals co-construct the cognitive structures that Referencesare used to interpret difference and that help to shape Adams, G., Biernat, M., Branscombe, N. R., Crandall, C. S., &inequalities. Of course, the law is not the only insti- Wrightsman, L. S. (2008). Beyond prejudice: Toward a socio-tutional “constructor” of difference, and there is room cultural psychology of racism and oppression. In G. 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