The Role of Cognitive and Cultural Sophistication on Diversity Outcomes: Differences Across Fields of Study

Brian P. An, Wei Lin Chen

Abstract


Social scientists generally consider college education important in increasing tolerance toward other social groups, and studies show a positive relation between education and tolerance. Despite this positive relation, previous research generally does not examine the influence of fields of study on diversity outcomes. Moreover, prior research has used crude measures to test the influence of cognitive and cultural sophistication, the proposed mechanism through which education increases tolerance. Using longitudinal data of college students, this research addressed whether the “liberalizing” effects of college education on diversity outcomes are due to the increase in cognitive and cultural sophistication, as proponents claim or whether these liberalizing effects of college education on diversity outcomes differ by fields of study. Partial support was found that cognitive and cultural sophistication increase diversity outcomes. Students’ need for cognition and peer discussions about diversity increases diversity outcomes. Little evidence was found that the influence of cognitive and cultural sophistication on diversity outcomes differs by fields of study. Although the influence of cognitive and cultural sophistication on diversity outcomes is similar across fields of study, differences in the degree of exposure to cognitive and cultural sophistication account for a large share of the gap in diversity outcomes by fields of study.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsss.v2i1.6338

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Journal of Social Science Studies ISSN 2329-9150

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