Highlighting strengths in response to discrimination

By: Meg Warren, Tejvir Sekhon, Rachael J. Waldrop

Warren, M.A., Sekhon,T., & Waldrop, R. J. (2022). Highlighting strengths in response to discrimination: Developing and testing an allyship positive psychology intervention. International Journal of Wellbeing, 12(1), 21-41. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v12i1.175


Allyship is gaining popularity as a tool to combat discrimination. We developed and tested a novel allyship positive psychology intervention (PPI). Importantly, we examined observers’ perceptions of intervention effectiveness given that observers represent the majority in many settings. Study 1 (= 787) tested an intervention that highlighted a female employee’s identity-related strengths following a discrimination episode. Compared to communicating an organization’s diversity policy or confronting the transgressor, highlighting the target’s identity-related strengths was rated higher in terms of inclusion and vitality engendered in the target. Mediation analyses indicated that highlighting strengths was perceived as boosting the target’s vitality by signaling the ally’s sincerity and prompting inclusion. In Study 2 (N = 802), amongst various types of identity-related strengths, highlighting the target’s psychological and intellectual capital was as effective as highlighting all types of identity-related strengths combined, due to perceived sincerity. Thus, this research offers a quick, actionable and non-confrontational allyship PPI.