Posted by: lwagner10 | September 28, 2011

Is being out beneficial for your performance?

Here is a very interesting study which further supports the importance of people being out in the workplace from the UCLA Newsroom.

 UCLA Anderson study challenges effectiveness of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ similar policies

 By Elise Anderson September 19, 2011 Category: Research

Could working with an openly gay individual undermine a co-worker’s on–the-job performance? Not likely, according to a recent UCLA Anderson School of Management study. In fact, concealing one’s sexual orientation may actually have an adverse effect on workplace function.

 

The findings of a six-month study by UCLA Anderson doctoral candidates Benjamin Everly and Geoffrey Ho and UCLA Anderson associate professor of human resources and organizational behavior Margaret Shih suggest that policies that introduce uncertainty into social interactions, such as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” may harm rather than protect performance.

 

The study results, recently published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, come at a controversial juncture inU.S.politics, with the congressional repeal of the military’s 18-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy occurring Sept. 20.

 

“While much research examines what happens to individuals who conceal an identity, there is almost no work examining what happens to a person who interacts with someone forced to hide their sexual orientation,” Everly said. “Our studies are the first to examine how policies such as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ affect the performance of people working with gay teammates.”

 

These studies focused on providing a deeper understanding of the role concealable identities may play in social interactions and determining whether disclosing or revealing sexual orientation hinders or improves performance. To that end, the researchers designed tests to measure the cognitive and sensory-motor skills of more than 50 UCLA undergraduate men, each of whom was paired with a gay confederate who would either disclose or conceal his sexual orientation.

 

Participants were asked to complete different tasks in two separate studies. The first examined whether participants working with openly gay partners performed better on a series of math problems compared to participants who worked with ambiguously gay partners. The second tested whether participants working with openly gay partners performed better on a Nintendo Wii shooting game, compared with participants who worked with ambiguously gay partners.

 

The results of each study showed that the participants paired with openly gay partners performed on average 32 percent better on the cognitive task and 20 percent better on the sensory-motor task, compared with participants paired with ambiguously gay partners.

 

Previous research has indicated that ambiguity in interactions may hurt performance, as individuals need to be able to predict behaviors and attitudes with their partners to facilitate social interaction. Disclosure of sexual orientation by a gay partner reduces ambiguity and makes the interaction less psychologically demanding, the researchers say.

 

“The results of our studies suggest that there may be beneficial effects from the abolition of DADT,” Shih said. “It’s possible that service men and women may perform better at their jobs when they no longer need to wonder about the sexual orientation of their comrades.”

 

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