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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00575

Looking Beyond Our Similarities: How Perceived (In)visible Dissimilarity Relates to Feelings of Inclusion at Work

  • 1Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • 2Leiden University, Netherlands

We investigated how the perception of being dissimilar to others at work relates to employees’ felt inclusion, distinguishing between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity. In addition, we tested the indirect relationships between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity and work-related outcomes, through social inclusion. Furthermore, we tested the moderating role of a climate for inclusion in the relationship between perceived dissimilarity and felt inclusion. We collected survey data from 891 employees of a public service organization. An ANOVA showed that felt inclusion was lower for individuals who perceived themselves as deep-level dissimilar compared to individuals who perceived themselves as similar, while felt inclusion did not differ among individuals who perceived themselves as surface-level similar or dissimilar. Furthermore, a moderated mediation analysis showed a negative conditional indirect relationship between deep-level dissimilarity and work-related outcomes through felt inclusion. Interestingly, while the moderation analysis showed that a positive climate for inclusion buffered the negative relationship between deep-level dissimilarity and felt inclusion, it also positively related to feelings of inclusion among all employees, regardless of their (dis)similarity. This research significantly improves our understanding of how perceived dissimilarity affects employees by distinguishing between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity and by demonstrating the importance of a climate for inclusion.

Keywords: dissimilarity, inclusion, Climate for inclusion, surface-level, Deep-level

Received: 14 Sep 2018; Accepted: 01 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Christopher T. Begeny, University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Kathryn L. Boucher, University of Indianapolis, United States
Kimberly T. Schneider, Illinois State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Şahin, van der Toorn, Jansen, Boezeman and Ellemers. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Onur Şahin, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands,