Surface-level diversity and decision-making in groups: When does deep-level similarity help?

Katherine W. Phillips, Gregory B. Northcraft, Margaret A. Neale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined how surface-level diversity (based on race) and deep-level similarities influenced three-person decision-making groups on a hidden-profile task. Surface-level homogeneous groups perceived their information to be less unique and spent less time on the task than surface-level diverse groups. When the groups were given the opportunity to learn about their deep-level similarities prior to the task, group members felt more similar to one another and reported greater perceived attraction, but this was more true for surface-level homogeneous than surface-level diverse groups. Surface-level homogeneous groups performed slightly better after discovering deep-level similarities, but discovering deep-level similarities was not helpful for surface-level diverse groups, who otherwise outperformed surface-level homogeneous groups. We discuss the implications of this research for managing diversity in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-482
Number of pages16
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Diversity
  • Information sharing task
  • Similarity-attraction
  • Social categorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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