Diversity, oddness and multiculturalism in humans

On clone wars

Utility of diversity

A note salad of arguments people make for the usefulness of having diverse people in teams/societies, most economic arguments.

Does diversity help attain wisdom? Sometimes, it seems. Scott Page calls this the diversity dividend. Quantifying when and how it works is of interest to me. Possibly diversity and tolerance is not just an intrinsic moral good, but may pay literal dividends in terms of avoiding groupthink in your team. What are the conditions for this happy state? Dobbin and Kalev (2016) argue that punishing failures can be counterproductive, in favour of voluntarism and transparency, which might harness status psychology of the incumbent power brokers.

McKinsey report, Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince: Why diversity matters:

While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful.

(They could possibly have done better than that mealy-mouthed correlation phrasing if they wanted, via causal analysis.)

Other random readings: Chris Dillow, diversity trumps ability.

The new Matthew Syed book (titled Rebel Ideas or Superteams depending where you are) apparently covers some of this material (Syed 2020).

OK, I suspect most of that is not highly controversial, although people might perhaps set the bounds about what “too much” diversity is rather differently.

For an interesting perspective on whether taking one for the team and being oddball is worthwhile, see Olga Khazan on Living and Flourishing While Being Weird.

Welcoming and surviving diversity

TBD. Maybe see Getting along for now?

Diversity as an end

Is cultivating diversity and difference an end in itself? The end? I have a short essay in my mind here about the intrinsic worth of human oddity, as opposed to human uniformity. Possibly related: hyperselection.



Aleta, Alberto, and Yamir Moreno. 2019. “The Dynamics of Collective Social Behavior in a Crowd Controlled Game.” EPJ Data Science 8 (1): 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1140/epjds/s13688-019-0200-1.
Baldassarri, Delia, and Maria Abascal. 2020. “Diversity and Prosocial Behavior.” Science 369 (6508): 1183–87. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb2432.
Baron, Robert S. 2005. “So Right It’s Wrong: Groupthink and the Ubiquitous Nature of Polarized Group Decision Making.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 37:219–53. Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(05)37004-3.
Danan, Eric, Thibault Gajdos, Brian Hill, and Jean-Marc Tallon. 2016. “Robust Social Decisions.” American Economic Review 106 (9): 2407–25. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20150678.
Dinesen, Peter Thisted, and Kim Mannemar Sønderskov. 2013. “Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: The Role of Exposure in the Micro-Context.” Ethnic Diversity and Social Capital. http://curis.ku.dk/ws/files/46107631/Dinesen_S_nderskov_Ethnic_Diversity_and_Social_Trust_The_Role_of_Exposure_in_the_Micro_Context_May_2013.pdf.
Dobbin, Frank, and Alexandra Kalev. 2016. “Why Diversity Programs Fail.” Harvard Business Review, July 1, 2016. https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail.
———. 2021. “The Civil Rights Revolution at Work: What Went Wrong.” Annual Review of Sociology 47 (1): null. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-090820-023615.
Farrell, Henry, and Cosma Rohilla Shalizi. 2015. “Pursuing Cognitive Democracy.” From Voice to Influence: Understanding Citizenship in a Digital Age; Allen, D., Light, J., Eds, 211–31. http://henryfarrell.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Farrell-paper.pdf.
Fu, Feng, and Long Wang. 2008. “Coevolutionary Dynamics of Opinions and Networks: From Diversity to Uniformity.” Physical Review E 78 (1): 016104. https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.78.016104.
Hamilton, Marcus J., Robert S. Walker, and Christopher P. Kempes. 2020. “Diversity Begets Diversity in Mammal Species and Human Cultures.” Scientific Reports 10 (1): 19654. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-76658-2.
Hong, Lu, and Scott E. Page. 2004. “Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-Ability Problem Solvers.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (46): 16385–89. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0403723101.
Horwitz, Sujin K., and Irwin B. Horwitz. 2007. “The Effects of Team Diversity on Team Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review of Team Demography.” Journal of Management 33 (6): 987–1015. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206307308587.
Jackson, Matthew O. 2009. “Social Structure, Segregation, and Economic Behavior.” Presented as the Nancy Schwartz Memorial Lecture, February. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1530885.
Jeppesen, Lars Bo, and Karim R. Lakhani. 2010. “Marginality and Problem-Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search.” Organization Science 21 (5): 1016–33. https://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.1090.0491.
Klug, Michael, and James P. Bagrow. 2016. “Understanding the Group Dynamics and Success of Teams.” Royal Society Open Science 3 (4). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160007.
Lee, Neil, and Max Nathan. 2011. “Does Cultural Diversity Help Innovation in Cities: Evidence from London Firms.” LSE Research Online Documents on Economics. London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library. https://econpapers.repec.org/paper/ehllserod/33579.htm.
Lublin, Joann S. 2015. “New Report Finds a ‘Diversity Dividend’ at Work.” WSJ (blog). January 20, 2015. https://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2015/01/20/new-report-finds-a-diversity-dividend-at-work/.
Mahmoodi, Ali, Dan Bang, Karsten Olsen, Yuanyuan Aimee Zhao, Zhenhao Shi, Kristina Broberg, Shervin Safavi, et al. 2015. “Equality Bias Impairs Collective Decision-Making Across Cultures.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 (12): 3835–40. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1421692112.
Moss-Racusin, C. A., J. F. Dovidio, V. L. Brescoll, M. J. Graham, and J. Handelsman. 2012. “Science Faculty’s Subtle Gender Biases Favor Male Students.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (41): 16474–79. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1211286109.
O’Connor, Cailin, and Jingyi Wu. 2021. “How Should We Promote Transient Diversity in Science?” MetaArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/w3xc5.
Page, Scott E. 2008. The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies - New Edition. New edition with a New preface by the author. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
———. 2011. Diversity and Complexity. Primers in Complex Systems. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Peter Skerry. 2002. “Beyond Sushiology: Does Diversity Work?” Brookings Institution (blog). December 1, 2002. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/beyond-sushiology-does-diversity-work/.
Peters, Ole, and Alexander Adamou. 2015. “An Evolutionary Advantage of Cooperation.” arXiv:1506.03414 [Nlin, q-Bio, q-Fin], June. http://arxiv.org/abs/1506.03414.
Prelec, Dražen, H. Sebastian Seung, and John McCoy. 2017. “A Solution to the Single-Question Crowd Wisdom Problem.” Nature 541 (7638): 532–35. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21054.
Syed, Matthew. 2020. Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. S.l.: John Murray.
Trouche, Emmanuel, Emmanuel Sander, and Hugo Mercier. 2014. “Arguments, More Than Confidence, Explain the Good Performance of Reasoning Groups.” SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 2431710. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2431710.
Weisbuch, Gérard, Guillaume Deffuant, Frédéric Amblard, and Jean-Pierre Nadal. 2002. “Meet, Discuss, and Segregate!” Complexity 7 (3): 55–63. https://doi.org/10.1002/cplx.10031.

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