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How to use the SCARF model to maximise reward and eliminate threats

How to use the SCARF model to maximise reward and eliminate threats

Have you ever struggled with building teamwork? Do you remember times when you thought everything was working well, only to find that your colleagues were unhappy or frustrated? We're here to help with a simple and clear rundown of how to use the SCARF model to improve communication and understand your influence when working in a team.

The SCARF model was first developed in 2008 by David Rock in his paper; SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating With and Influencing Others.

SCARF stands for the five key areas that influence our behaviour in social situations. They are:

1) Status; our relative importance to other people.

2) Certainty; our ability to predict the future.

3) Autonomy; our sense of control over events.

4) Relatedness; how safe we feel with others.

5) Fairness; how fair we feel the exchanges between people to be.

The model is based on research that implies that these five social areas activate the same threat and reward responses in our brain that we rely on for our physical survival.

This pretty ‘primitive’ reaction helps to explain the strong emotional responses we can have in some social situations and why it can be hard to control them. It is a base instinct and unfortunately, it can’t be ‘turned off’.

For example, when we are left out of an activity, we might see it as a threat to our status and our relatedness. Research has shown that this emotional response can stimulate the same region of the brain as physical pain. Our brain is sending out the signal that we are in danger.

Furthermore, when we do feel threatened, physically or socially, the release of the stress hormone cortisol can have an impact on our creativity and productivity. It muddles things in our mind, so we are unable to think straight and this confusion can heighten the feeling of being threatened.

On the flip side however, when we feel rewarded, receiving praise for our work for example, our brains release dopamine, the happy hormone, which makes us want to seek the reward again.

So how can you use the SCARF model to maximise your colleagues’ sense of reward and the eliminate perceived threats, for each area of the SCARF model?

Let’s break it down.

Read our complete blog about scarf model at virtual training.

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