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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethnicity and interpersonal influence : an expectation states approach Buchan, Shari Lynn


This thesis examines the relationship between ethnicity and perceived competence within the framework of status generalization theory. The theory holds that status characteristics which are significant in the larger society (e.g., sex, age, ethnicity) come to affect expectations of performance and actual performance outputs in task oriented groups. Ethnicity was chosen as the independent variable, and "White" and "East Indian" constituted the values of the variable. The study was initiated in order to determine the effect of ethnicity (as operationalized) on the amount of influence accepted and the performance standards applied to self and other. The thesis outlines the theory and the scope conditions under which it applies. As well, evidence is provided to substantiate the claim that ethnicity is a status characteristic in Canada and that, in particular, persons of East Indian origin are considered to be of low status. The results of two related experiments are discussed, the first examining the effects of ethnicity alone, and the second examining the combined effect of ethnicity and performance on the dependent variables identified. The findings of Experiment One show some support for the prediction that East Indians are perceived as less competent than Whites. However, the effect of the variable is not as strong as predicted. As a further indication that the variable (as operationalized) lacks strength, the effects of ethnicity are eliminated with the introduction of equal and average scores in Experiment Two. Contrary to expectations, gender differences are evident in both experiments.

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