Economic stress is a fact of life for many American workers (American Psychological Association 2013, 2015). Outcomes of economic stress for individuals are well documented in the literature, particularly related to employment stressors such as job insecurity and unemployment (De Witte, 2005; Shoss, 2017). However, considerably less research has focused on the effects of economic stress beyond the individual employee. In recent years, several researchers have called out the need to examine the impact of economic stressors from a contextual, situational, and/or multilevel standpoint (Probst et al., 2018; Probst & Shoss, 2012; Sinclair & Cheung, 2016). This paper seeks to examine the potential for economic stress to negatively impact an individual's interpersonal behaviors in the workplace. Namely, it examines the troubling suggestions from prior research that economic stress may lead to increased instances of racial prejudice and discrimination at work. This paper leverages theories such as realistic group conflict theory, resource scarcity, and cognitive load to propose a dual-pathway model that examines how experiencing economic stress, in particular, may lead to increased propensity toward workplace prejudice and discrimination via resource scarcity, competition, and attention. This model was tested using two experimental studies where representative samples of employed adults in the US responded to hypothetical scenarios involving candidates of various races. Results provide initial support for the model when examining self-reported racism as the ultimate outcome, as well as some support for the relationship between one facet of economic stress and biased evaluations against non-white candidates. These studies provide a framework to underlie future research and managerial practice that seek to better understand and mitigate workplace prejudice and discrimination, as well as other negative outcomes of economic stress.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Carusone, Nicole, "Resources and Racism: An Examination of a Dual-Pathway Model of Economic Stress and Workplace Prejudice and Discrimination" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 985.
Restricted to the UCF community until May 2027; it will then be open access.