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Faculty & Research


Lay Theories of Instrumental Relations: Explaining Individual Differences in Dispositional Similarity-Attraction

Journal Article

The growing diversity in today’s workplace requires engaging with people who not only look different but also think different. Yet, research on workplace relations has treated similarity-attraction as a human universal and paid limited attention to individual differences in who respects or tolerates different views and values, and why.


The authors address this gap by examining how lay theories people hold about instrumental relations affect dispositional similarity-attraction. Because people who hold a fixed (versus growth) theory of instrumental relations believe that relationships form primarily on the basis of natural compatibility (versus effort), they should be particularly prone to similarity-attraction on the basis of dispositional similarity in values, attitudes, and personality traits.


Finally (Experiment 2), the authors manipulate lay theories to show that inducing growth theories increases people’s satisfaction with a task partner who is dispositionally dissimilar.


The authors conclude by discussing theoretical and practical implications for building diverse yet cohesive workplaces.


Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour