Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Finkelstein, Lisa M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


I tested a new model of perceived dissimilarity on meeting interpersonal engagement drawing from models of diversity and emotional labor and conceptualizations of interpersonal engagement in the literature. In doing so, this investigation merged the burgeoning meeting science field with more recent focuses and methods from the emotional labor literature to advance our understanding of how diversity impacts the individual experience of dissimilarity in the workplace. Furthering the notion of dynamism in diversity’s effects, the current study investigated meetings as a context that may affect shifts in one’s perception of dissimilarity due to variable attendee composition.

The perception of dissimilarity was proposed to negatively impact meeting interpersonal engagement (i.e., surface acting, communication frequency, information elaboration). This notion of event dependent perceptions of dissimilarity – and the subsequent effects on meeting communications – was explored using an event sampling method. Fifty-five full-time working employees participated in a two-week study in which they provided data following up to five of their workplace meetings. Three different dissimilarity perceptions (surface-level, work-related deep-level, and non-work-related deep-level) were examined in relation to the three indices of meeting interpersonal engagement. Perceived non-work-related dissimilarity was found to be significantly associated with increased surface acting and decreased information elaboration, supporting some hypotheses.

Contextual moderators (i.e., display rule salience and existing power structures) were also found to have significant influence. Some of these relationships were as hypothesized. For example, there were stronger, positive associations between perceived non-work-related deep-level dissimilarity surface acting in meetings for women compared to men. Several were not as expected. For example, increasing perceptions of perceived non-work-related deep-level dissimilarity were related to significantly more surface acting for White employees compared to employees from other racio-ethnic groups. These findings, along with those for the full investigation, are reviewed within. The implications for research and practice are reviewed in the discussion.


111 pages




Northern Illinois University

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