Publication Date

Summer 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Katrina A. Burch (Director), Elizabeth L. Shoenfelt, and Reagan D. Brown

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Dissent, the public expression of a minority perspective, is valuable to organizations due to its connections with improving decision-making processes within teams. The current study sought to integrate what is known about diversity in thought and diversity in people and how this influences the dissent process. Specifically, I examined if positive perceptions of dissenters (i.e., worthy of respect or courageous) differ based on the race of the dissenter. Second, I examined if stories of successful articulated dissent influence subsequent willingness to dissent. In developing a scenario to manipulate dissent outcomes ranging from negative outcomes (i.e., hostility) to positive outcomes (i.e., acceptance and influence), I studied the impact of varied responses dissent of one’s one willingness to engage in dissent. The outcome of the dissent scenario did not influence one’s willingness to dissent. However, the race of the dissenter did influence perceptions of the dissenter. Specifically, the Black dissenter was viewed as more intelligent, deserving of respect, and likeable. This study has implications for how coworkers and leaders may respond differentially to a dissenter depending on their race.


Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Industrial and Organizational Psychology | Organizational Communication | Organization Development