Social recognition

In my research, I am concerned with three forms of social recognition that have been identified across disciplines as central dimensions of social communication and interaction. This differentiation into needs-based care, social esteem, and equality-based respect makes it possible to systematically analyze interactions and uncover potential deficits. Positive recognition experiences are important for the development of self-recognition (e.g., self-respect), identity, and integrity.

Recognition experiences have previously been positively related to a person’s self-recognition, personal autonomy, life satisfaction, participation, and prosocial attitudes. Recognition experiences also appear to play a role in health. The more recognition experiences a person experiences, for example at work, the lower the burnout symptoms a person reports. More detailed information can be found in the publications listed below

Need-based care

As social beings, people depend on receiving emotional care from others.

Equality-based respect

People need reassurance from others that they are taken seriously and respected as equals.

Social esteem

It is important for people to receive positive regard for their qualities, contributions, and achievements.

Ausgewählte Veröffentlichungen

Social recognition matters: Consequences for school participation and life satisfaction among immigrant students
David Sirlopú & Daniela Renger (2020)

Participation in society is instrumental for democracy and of special importance for minority members. Despite broad research in the context of adults’ participation, the earlier formative years and the participation of students in school activities have been neglected so far. The present research examined antecedents and consequences of Latin American migrant students’ participation in school activities in Chile. More specifically, we tested whether three forms of social recognition experiences (i.e., need‐based care, equality‐based respect and achievement‐based social esteem) received from Chilean society predicted different forms of school participation. Heightened school participation was assumed to further translate into satisfaction with life. Results of a study with immigrant students (N = 393; 12–20 years old; 56.7% female) revealed, that experiences of social esteem predicted an overall positive perception of school participation and this effect further translated into heightened life satisfaction. Moreover, experiences of respect were associated with participation in school decisions and rules and with participation in school events. The latter effect further translated into enhanced life satisfaction. Care did not play a role in predicting school participation when the other forms of recognition were controlled for. We discuss the importance of social recognition experiences and implications for interventions within educational systems.

Professional Recognition at Work: The Protective Role of Esteem, Respect, and Care for Burnout Among Employees
Daniela Renger, Marcel Miché & Annalisa Casini (2020)

Objective: The present research systematically investigates the role of recognition experiences at work as a protective factor for burnout.

Method: In two cross-sectional studies (N = 328 and N = 220) with employees we measured via online questionnaires three forms of recognition (achievement-based social esteem, equality-based respect, and need-based care) from coworkers and supervisors as predictors and burnout among employees as outcome.

Results: Using multiple regression analyses, Study 1 provided initial evidence that both supervisor and coworker recognition were negatively associated with employees’ burnout. Study 2 further demonstrated that whereas respect experiences were especially crucial for lowering emotional exhaustion, care was primarily linked to reduced depersonalization and esteem to heightened personal accomplishment.

Conclusion: We discuss how positive recognition experiences can be fostered in organizations in order to buffer the negative effects burnout can cause.

Voicing One’s Ideas: Intragroup Respect as an Antecedent of Assertive Behavior
Daniela Renger, Alex Mommert, Sophus Renger, Marcel Miché & Bernd Simon (2019)

In this research, we tested equality-based respect from ingroup members as a social antecedent of positive assertiveness (i.e., voicing one’s opinions) and group performance. A pretest with employees at the workplace supported that the variables of interest were indeed correlated. The main experimental study then confirmed that participants who had received high as compared with low intragroup respect displayed more assertive behavior and yielded higher group performance in dyadic intragroup discussions. In contrast, high intergroup respect (i.e., from outgroup members) lowered assertiveness and performance levels in intergroup interactions relative to low respect. We discuss implications for social interactions and discourses.

From Equality‐Based Respect to Environmental Activism: Antecedents and Consequences of Global Identity
Daniela Renger & Gerhard Reese (2017)

Global identity reflects social identification with the world and the largest, most inclusive human ingroup and is generally associated with behavior that serves the world and all humans, such as transnational cooperation or proenvironmental engagement. While the outcomes of being globally identified are well‐established, the antecedents of global identity are only partially explored. Drawing from research suggesting that respect fosters identification in small groups, we argue that the general experience of being respected as an equal by others increases global identification. In an online study with 469 Germans (students and nonstudents), we tested the relation between equality‐based respect and global identification in a structural equation model, with proenvironmental intentions and donation behavior as outcome variables. As expected, equality‐based respect, but not other forms of social recognition (need‐based care and achievement‐based social esteem), predicted global identity while higher global identity, in turn, predicted proenvironmental activism. These effects were substantial beyond known predictors of proenvironmental behavior and thus suggest that equality‐based respect represents an important facet of responses to global challenges.

A Social Recognition Approach to Autonomy: The Role of Equality-Based Respect
Daniela Renger, Sophus Renger, Marcel Miché & Bernd Simon (2017)

Inspired by philosophical reasoning about the connection between equality and freedom, we examined whether experiences of (equality-based) respect increase perceived autonomy. This link was tested with generalized experiences of respect and autonomy people make in their daily lives (Study 1) and with more specific experiences of employees at the workplace (Study 2). In both studies, respect strongly and independently contributed to perceived autonomy over and above other forms of social recognition (need-based care and achievement-based social esteem) and further affected (life/work) satisfaction. Study 3 experimentally confirmed the hypothesized causal influence of respect on perceived autonomy and demonstrated that this effect further translates into social cooperation. The respect–cooperation link was simultaneously mediated by perceived autonomy and superordinate collective identification. We discuss how the recognition approach, which differentiates between respect, care, and social esteem, can enrich research on autonomy

Media contributions
  • Interviewed by Gehirn&Geist (issue 10/2018)
  • Interviewed by Fluter – Magazin der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (issue 12/2018)
  • Contribution in In-Mind Magazine “Respect for Refugees and by Refugees: Challenges of an Equal Coexistence” (Renger & Eschert)