Study: People More Comfortable With Out Co-Workers Than Closeted Ones
New research supports the notion that people who don’t hide their sexual orientation are not only more pleasant to be around, but also perform more effectively in the workplace by improving teamwork.
University of California-Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Management released a study conducted among undergraduates to coincide with the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on Sept. 20. But the research has ramifications well beyond gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.
Activists say the research will serve as ammunition in aiding passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has languished in Congress since its initial introduction in 1994. The study helps put to rest a major argument against repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell -- that it would harm unit cohesion in the military.
That’s because policies that introduce uncertainty into social interactions, such as the ban on gay service members serving openly, may negatively affect rather than protect team performance. Those in the military could perform better if they don’t need to wonder about their teammates’ sexual orientation, according to the UCLA researchers.
During the six-month study, the first of its kind, a research team tested a group of 50 undergraduate men. Each was paired with a gay man who either disclosed or concealed his orientation.
Separate studies measured cognitive and sensory-motor skills in performing math problems and in playing a Nintendo Wii shooting game.
Results: 1/3 Better With Openly Gay Co-Worker
The results showed that the participants paired with openly gay partners performed on average 32 percent better in solving math problems and 20 percent better on the Nintendo game compared to participants paired with closeted gay partners.
Previous research showed that ambiguity in interactions may hurt performance, since people need to be able to predict behaviors and attitudes with team partners to facilitate social interaction, according to UCLA.