A purported downside of social category diversity is decreased relationship focus (i.e., one's focus on establishing a positive social bond with a coworker). However, we argue that this lack of relationship focus serves as a central mechanism that improves information processing even prior to interaction and ultimately decision-making performance in diverse settings. We introduce the construct of pre-meeting elaboration (i.e., the extent to which individuals consider their own and others' perspectives in the anticipation of an interaction), and explore its link with social category diversity, and relationship focus. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that when disagreement occurs, social category diversity increases pre-meeting elaboration, with relationship focus as a central causal mechanism. Experiment 3 shows that pre-meeting elaboration has important implications for performance: disagreeing dyads with social category diversity elaborate more prior to meeting, and as a result, perform better on a decision-making task than those with social category homogeneity. We discuss the value of studying early-stage interaction and propose a reconsideration of the "downside" of social category diversity.
Loyd, D. L., C. S. Wang, Katherine Phillips, and R. B. Lount, Jr. "Social category diversity promotes pre-meeting elaboration: The role of relationship focus." Organization Science 24, no. 3 (2013): 757-772.
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