It Does Not Have To Be Uncomfortable: The Role of Behavioral Scripts in Black-White Interracial Interactions

Derek R. Avery*, Jennifer A. Richeson, Michelle R. Hebl, Nalini Ambady

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite growing racioethnic diversity in U.S. organizations, few organizational studies have focused on Black-White interracial interactions. Two experiments examined the influence of interaction roles, and the social scripts they trigger, on White participants' anxiety during dyadic interactions with Black partners. Results from both studies reveal that White participants exhibited greater discomfort in Black-White interactions than in same-race interactions unless their interaction role offered an accessible script to guide behavior. Thus, the present findings suggest organizations may be able to attenuate anxiety among White employees by (a) providing opportunities for initial Black-White interactions in settings with clearly defined social scripts for behavior and (b) helping them to develop behavioral scripts for naturally occurring Black-White workplace interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1382-1393
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume94
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • behavioral scripting
  • diversity
  • interracial interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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