This paper extends social categorization theory to understand how personality traits related to information sharing may correspond with positive perceptions of demographically different people, thereby enhancing their experience and performance in organizations.
We tested our hypotheses in a sample of MBA candidates and a sample of financial services firm officers and found that people who were more demographically different from their coworkers engendered more negative impressions than did more similar coworkers. These impressions were more positive, however, when demographically different people were either more extraverted or higher self-monitors. Further, impressions formed of others mediated the influence of demographic differences on an individual’s performance such that the negative effect of being demographically different disappeared when the relationship between impression formation and performance was considered.
This suggests that demographically different people may have more control over the impressions others form of them than has been considered in previous research.