What Makes People Feel Respected? Social Worth in Difficult Conversations and Beyond
Respectful communication is beneficial when engaging with political opponents, conflicts of interests, and other delicate situations. Looking around political campaigns, cultural commentaries, or social science theories, respect appears almost like a panacea against personal and societal ills. Yet,...
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|Summary:||Respectful communication is beneficial when engaging with political opponents, conflicts of interests, and other delicate situations. Looking around political campaigns, cultural commentaries, or social science theories, respect appears almost like a panacea against personal and societal ills. Yet, a clear understanding of what respect is, and what makes people feel respected is lacking. The psychological literature on respect is afflicted by a proliferation of constructs. Some conceptualizations describe different subfacets of respect, such as respect that reflects conditional regard and respect that reflects unconditional regard.
Others define respect by virtue of other social worth constructs, such as status, belonging, acceptance, admiration or recognition, resulting in circular definitions and mutual subsumptions. With this dissertation, I aim to provide a sound theoretical framework to understand all social worth experiences in their differences and similarities.
The dissertation comprises three manuscripts. The first is an analysis of the respect experiences of people who reported on a discussion of a controversial political topic. We catalogued 38 indicators of respect and derived a list of nine motives that may have underlain their importance for respect. Using psychological network analysis, we tested the associations between the satisfaction of these nine motives and felt respect. We found significant associations between felt respect and six of the nine motives. We also found some exploratory evidence that the strength of these associations varied with characteristics of the reported discussion, suggesting that what makes people feel respected may depend, at least partly, on specifics of the interaction.
Inspired by the theoretical implications of the first manuscript, the second manuscript describes a theoretical framework to integrate the social worth experiences people make. At the core of the framework is a comparison mechanism whereby people assess the social worth they receive from an interaction partner. We posit that people compare the role they are accorded by a partner and what they themselves desire in an interaction. What people desire – their goals for an interaction – can be systematically described by considering their interdependence with the interaction partner. Thereby, the proposed mechanism can produce the similar-but-different social worth experiences, which previous accounts have attempted to capture by delineating different social worth constructs. Moreover, it helps to understand people’s reactions when they are granted social worth. We review the literature to demonstrate the versatility of our framework in explaining social worth processes underlying a range of phenomena.
In the third manuscript, we tested a hypothesis that is derived from the new theoretical framework. In a preregistered online experiment, we tested whether, in cross-gender conversations about workplace discrimination against women, men and women feel valued for being credited with different qualities. Corroborating our hypothesis, we found that women felt much less respected for being credited with communal than with agentic qualities. For men, in contrast, no significant difference in perceived social worth was observed for attributions of agentic vs. communal qualities.
In sum, this dissertation presents a general theoretical mechanism and empirical investigations into the nature of respect (and other forms of social worth) in difficultconversations. In doing so, it pushes the door wide open for new research into the varied and nuanced nature of social worth and the social dynamics that result when people feel respected or disrespected.|
|Physical Description:||121 Pages|