Ethnic dissimilarity predicts belonging motive frustration and reduced organizational attachment

Kawon Kim, Margaret Ormiston, Matthew Easterbrook, Vivian Vignoles

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Some empirical studies show negative consequences of being demographically different from one’s group, but the underlying psychological mechanisms are not well understood. To address this gap, we investigated the role of the belonging and distinctiveness motives in individuals’ experiences of being ethnically dissimilar from their group. We propose that ethnic dissimilarity satisfies group members’ need for distinctiveness whereas it frustrates members’ need for belonging, and this frustration reduces their organizational attachment. An experimental study showed that ethnic dissimilarity led to heightened arousal of the belonging motive, indicating that this motive was frustrated. In a naturalistic study of real-life student groups, ethnic dissimilarity was associated with frustrated belonging, which in turn was associated with reduced organizational attachment. This paper contributes to the literature on demographic dissimilarity in groups by closely examining the effect of demographic dissimilarity on group members’ fundamental motives and reactions to group membership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116
Number of pages138
JournalGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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