Speaker: Disrespect affects well-being and work

Feeling a bit disrespected at work?

Columbia University Professor Adam Galinsky says that could be a major factor affecting workplace happiness and productivity. Galinsky was this year’s ILR School Experimental Psychology and Organizations (ExPO) Lab distinguished speaker. ExPO, housed in ILR’s Ives Hall and operated by the Department of Organizational Behavior, focuses on producing experimental organizational psychology research.

Discussing his psychology of power research Nov. 7 in the ILR Conference Center in King-Shaw Hall, Galinsky used the term "sociometric status" to refer to "respect and admiration in the eyes of others." In studies involving graduate students, his research found that the rise and fall of sociometric status is a predictor of well-being.

The research also revealed a preference for "professional status versus organizational status." "More than 70 percent said they want to work in a place where their professional role is valued more so than the status of the organization," Galinsky said.

Regarding power - defined as "asymmetric control over valued resources" - Galinsky said the research shows that more power makes someone feel more authentic, which leads to greater feelings of well-being.

"Organizations that can raise average levels of sociometric status and feelings of power might be able to promote job satisfaction and, ultimately, better performance," he said.

Asked about the implications of hierarchies at work, Galinsky said it’s important to be clear about the task at hand and whether a hierarchy will "help or hinder." "If it involves people working together on idea generation, hierarchy is probably not an issue," he said. "But, when the idea is passed to the people who need to implement, where there is hierarchy, it can be more problematic."

Joe Zappala is assistant dean of and marketing at the ILR School.

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