USING TASK DEFINITION TO MODIFY RACIAL INEQUALITY WITHIN TASK GROUPS
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This study developed and tested a particular strategy to modify racial inequality in task groups. The strategy is suggested within an expectation states framework: If a group task is presented as one comprised of many skills that do not necessarily relate to one another, this complexity will decrease the effects of race. Thirty groups of three women, one black woman, and two white women were randomly assigned to either a condition in which the group members knew only that some people did better than others on the task (the baseline condition) or a condition in which the complexity of the task was emphasized (the incompatible complexity condition). In fact, only the descriptions of the task varied; the task was exactly the same in both conditions. Relative to the baseline condition, incompatible complexity decreased the inequality between black and white people for the time of verbal interaction and for procedural operations. The results suggest that changes in the perceived structure of the task can decrease inequality. Further, changes in inequality did not lead to decreased group effectiveness. © 2005 Midwest Sociological Society.
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