A "dark" aspect of intergroup relations is that group membership tends to yield stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination of "the other". The question is whether an individual’s beliefs and practices about diversity (i.e. diversity ideologies) play a role in the positive and negative outcomes of intergroup reactions.
Two of these ideologies are a) colourblindness and b) multiculturalism. Colourblindness refers to the approach of gaining equality by downplaying group distinctions. In US-American society, it can be traced to the movement that opposed segregation and inequality verbalised by Martin Luther King’s famous words that one day people would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character". Multiculturalism, on the other hand, gains equality by acknowledging and valuing differences, by focusing on positive consequences of group memberships. This approach opposes the idea of the melting pot which has one cultural ideal and hence leads to assimilation.
In general, members of majority groups tend to adopt the colourblind strategy (in order to appear unbiased) more than members of minority groups do. This "avoidance strategy" (for instance not mentioning someone’s ethnicity) is perceived as positive – in the sense of the group member being less biased – when ethnicity is irrelevant but negative – in the sense of the group member being more biased – when ethnicity is relevant.
According to research findings, comparing the effects of the two diversity strategies, colourblindness leads to less stereotyping whereas multiculturalism leads to less prejudice. And, colourblindness of majority workers can lead to less engagement of minority co-workers...
The authors compare research findings and come to the conclusion that "these diversity ideologies affect virtually every aspect of intergroup relations" and that "there is more consensus in the data showing that a multicultural ideology benefits minorities".
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- Rattan, A. & Ambady, N. (2013). Diversity ideologies and intergroup relations: An examination of colorblindness and multiculturalism. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 12-21
repost (originally posted as "Diversity ideologies: Colourblind or multicultural" on Google Science, 1 April 2014, link)