Unconditional respect for persons: A social psychological analysis

Abstract

It has been suggested that unconditional respect for persons, i.e. respect that is due to everyone simply as a function of their being persons, is the most fundamental kind of respect. Showing unconditional respect towards someone involves recognizing their integrity as a person and their status as an autonomous rational actor. This idea is a cornerstone of much moral, social and political theory. While the idea implicitly underlies some contemporary psychological work on respect, for the most part this fundamental moral orientation has been neglected in psychology. The concept needs clear explication and measurement if its explanatory and predictive value is to be fully realised. This paper will explore the concept of unconditional respect, describe a scale for measuring individual differences in this attitude, and then go on to position unconditional respect, both conceptually and empirically, amongst other relevant social psychological constructs such as Social Dominance Orientation, Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Empathy and Perspective-taking. We then provide some evidence on, as well as speculation about, the role of unconditional respect in interpersonal and intergroup relations.

Zusammenfassung

Bedingungsloser Respekt für Personen: Eine sozialpsychologische Analyse

Es wurde vorgeschlagen, bedingungslosen Respekt für Personen, also Respekt, der gezollt wird, einfach weil der/die Andere ein Mensch ist, als die fundamentalste Form des Respekts zu sehen. Jemanden bedingungslos zu respektieren beinhaltet Andere in ihrer Integrität als Personen und in ihrer Autonomie as rationale Akteure zu anzuerkennen. Diese Grundidee stellt das Kernelement unzähliger moralischer, sozialer und politischer Theorien dar. Während diese Idee implizit auch einigen derzeitigen psychologischen Arbeiten zu Respekt zugrunde liegt, so wird generell in der Psychologie diese Art des moralischen Respekts eher ausgespart. Das Konzept braucht jedoch klare Explikation und Messbarkeit, wenn seine erklärende und vorhersagende Funktion voll ausgeschöpft werden soll. In der vorliegenden Arbeit wird daher das Konzept des bedingungslosen Respekts exploriert, eine Skale zur Messung individueller Differenzen in dieser Einstellung beschrieben, sowie eine konzeptionelle wie auch empirische Positionsbestimmung vorgenommen, in der das Konzept im Verhältnis zu anderen relevanten sozialpsychologischen Konzepten, wie etwa Neigung zur Sozialen Dominanz, rechtextreme Autoritätsneigung, Empathie und Perspektivübernahme, diskutiert wird. Im Anschluss zeigen und spekulieren wir über die Rolle von unkonditionalen Respekt in interpersonalen und Intergruppen-Beziehungen.

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Correspondence to Mansur Lalljee.

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Dr. Mansur Lalljee is a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College Oxford. He moved from India to Oxford to study psychology and continued there as a member of the faculty. Besides his main focus on respect, his other research interests include attitudes, explanations, communication and cultural and political psychology.

Dr. Simon Laham completed his undergraduate work and doctorate at the University of New South Wales, before moving to a post-doctoral position at Oxford University to work on respect. He is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne. His main current interests include cultural and political psychology.

Dr. Tania Tam is a social statistician at the Legal Services Research Centre, London. She has degrees in German and in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Her research interests have focussed on intergroup conflict, including issues of respect, forgiveness and trust; and on the effects of communication between grandparents and grandchildren on ageism.

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Lalljee, M., Laham, S.M. & Tam, T. Unconditional respect for persons: A social psychological analysis. Gruppendynamik 38, 451–464 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11612-007-0037-0

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Keywords

  • unconditional respect
  • Social Dominance Orientation
  • Right-wing Authoritarianism
  • empathy
  • perspective-taking
  • action tendencies

Schlüsselwörter

  • bedingungsloser Respekt
  • Neigung zur Sozialen Dominanz
  • rechtextreme Autoritätsneigung
  • Empathie
  • Perspektivübernahme
  • Handlungstendenzen