An experiment varying the racial (Black, White) and opinion composition in small-group discussions was conducted with college students (N = 357) at three universities to test for effects on the perceived novelty of group members' contributions to discussion and on participants' integrative complexity. Results showed that racial and opinion minorities were both perceived as contributing to novelty. Generally positive effects on integrative complexity were found when the groups had racial- and opinion-minority members and when members reported having racially diverse friends and classmates. The findings are discussed in the context of social psychological theories of minority influence and social policy implications for affirmative action. The research supports claims about the educational significance of race in higher education, as well as the complexity of the interaction of racial diversity with contextual and individual factors.
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