How Organizational Theories of Intelligence Influence Perceptions of Companies for Men and Women
Emerson, Katherine T.
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Two studies investigated how an organization’s implicit theory of intelligence affects people’s perceptions of its diversity and prestige, their sense of belonging, and their trust in the company. An organizational lay theory of intelligence refers to the shared beliefs of people within a setting about the nature of intelligence. In Study 1, participants read a company’s mission statement suggesting a fixed (i.e., entity) or malleable (i.e., incremental) theory of intelligence. Results revealed that participants perceived the entity (vs. incremental) company to be more prestigious, but less diverse. Additionally, participants reported less trust when considering the entity (vs. incremental) company, in part due to people’s perceptions of the company’s (lack of) diversity and their (decreased) anticipated belonging in the company. In Study 2, White male and female participants viewed a company website in which the company’s organizational theory (incremental vs. entity) and numerical representations of gender (balanced/1:1 ratio of men to women vs. unbalanced/3:1) were fully crossed in a factorial design. Results did not support predictions that organizational theory and numerical representation would interact to predict perceptions of company genuineness, company diversity, expectations about being stereotyped, and anticipated belonging and trust as a potential employee of the company. Instead, results revealed that only organizational theory (and not diversity representation) predicted the majority of outcome variables. Furthermore, these results held almost exclusively for female participants. Theoretical and practical implications of this work for social identity threat, the cues hypothesis, and for future research examining the role of organizational theories of intelligence in people’s perceptions of and outcomes are discussed.
Subjectorganizational theories of intelligence