The tolerance benefits of multicultural experiences depend on the perception of available mental resources

Carmit T. Tadmor*, Ying Yi Hong, Melody M. Chao, Ayala Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multicultural experience has been shown to lead to greater intergroup tolerance via reduced need for cognitive closure (NFCC). However, the requisite metacognitive conditions that facilitate this effect have yet to be examined. In 6 studies, we systematically demonstrated that the ameliorative effects of multicultural experience on intergroup bias are achieved only when individuals perceived that they had sufficient mental resources. Mental resources were either (a) measured during the Hong Kong "Umbrella Revolution" (Study 1), (b) experimentally manipulated in the lab through a classic depletion task (Study 2), or (c) subjectively recalled (Studies 3, 4, 5, and 6). We further showed that the moderating effects of perceived resource availability on the tolerance benefits of multicultural experience were mediated by reduced levels of NFCC (Studies 1, 5, and 6). This effect was consistent across a variety of targeted outgroups (Mainland Chinese, Arabs, Russians, Blacks, Asian Americans, and homosexuals), regardless of whether multicultural experience was measured or manipulated, and across samples (Hong Kongers, Jewish Israelis, and U.S.-born Americans). Overall, by integrating the literature on multicultural experiences with that on perceived resource depletion, we demonstrate the state-dependent nature of the advantages of multicultural experiences as well as afford a more nuanced view of the downstream influence of perceived mental depletion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-426
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Intergroup bias
  • Mental resources
  • Multicultural experiences
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Prejudice


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