Individual Ego Level and Involvement

Nadeem Yousaf

Manager should appreciate that formalization can only partially condition participants’ response in organizations. The reason is very simple because human mind carries its own unique qualities and functions. Since human minds are unique so interpretation of incoming should not be viewed strange. Human beings cognition and analytic abilities are also affected by external and internal factors. As mentioned, human beings carry different qualities and capabilities; hence their physical and mental strengths differ from each other. Classical behaviourists hardly realize that it is not possible to predict as to how it will be interpreted by individuals when an act is reinforced. Let us take the following hypothetical example before going further into the discussion.

Suppose two juniors make an appointment with their senior and go to see him at the appointed time. We further assume that the moment they enter the office, senior looks at his or her watch. It is possible that both will interpret this behaviour in the same manner (e.g., as rude, polite or neutral behavior), but this possibility cannot be ruled out that both individuals interpret the event differently. Not necessarily that individuals show their internal interpretation of to the counterparts.

Human beings develop understanding about a group or individuals through their overt behaviour and act according to their own subjective interpretation of events. For example, Mr. `X’ meets a person and we assume that she or he meets Mr. `X’ nicely. What will happen now? Mind of Mr `X’ will analyze his/her behavior by employing different means, such as, the words which are used, displayed non-verbal patterns, and, Mr. `X’ past experience. Keeping in view all these factors `X’ shall interpret whether the behavior was polite, impolite, hippocratic or neutral. It is possible that the the person who was meeting Mr. ‘X’  nicely in  his or her own way and hoping it will act as a positive reinforcer but reality can be different. Mind it, iindividuals interpret events, people, and organization using four available means as mentioned below:

  1. Current visible verbal communication
  2. Current non-verbal behaviour
  3. Stereotyping about individuals and organizations
  4. Individuals own general mental schema

An important question can be raised here as to why we react differently to the same information? The answer to the question is hidden in studying Individual Ego-Level (IEL). IEL can be defined as a subjective level of sensitivity to understanding a phenomenon. It means that there are certain things that we accept gladly, certain things with difficulty and certain things not at all. Whether IEL is satisfied or dissatisfied, indeed, affects the interaction with juniors, peers and superiors in organizations or any other social activity. It is not relevant to discuss how IEL is developed and psychological schema are formed, however, it is suffice to know that IEL exists which carries consequences for individuals and organizations. How an organization is viewed and what individuals expect form it depends upon IEL.

If organizational doctrines and other incoming information correspond with the individual IEL, they will be accepted. It reflects that incoming information and interpretation of information are in harmony; hence cognitive reaction is in consonance consequently it leads to moral involvement in the organization. The word “correspond or corresponding” refers to the meaning that values of two things are in the same direction. This does not mean that there will not be any conflicts but message will be sent in such a way that does not hurt personal’ IEL.

The word non-corresponding depicts that the nature of difference is not crossing the threshold Individual ego level.  Non-Corresponding Organizational doctrines or individual behaviour inculcate calculative involvement.
Opposite organizational doctrines and behaviours crosses the threshold of IEL, which develops antagonistic feelings among individuals. The antagonistic feeling develops due to divergent or opposite values. If IEL hurts beyond a certain level it can turn normal interaction into antagonistic, which brings alienative involvement of employees. It also creates the situation of dissonance, which is not only annoying and disturbing but also lead to identity crises. Those who are suffering from dissonance or identity crises do not mean that they are dumb or foolish. Erikson says that we can study identity crisis in the lives of creative individuals. Possibly creative individuals face identity crisis because their IEL does not correspond with the functioning of the existing system.

And, if the information which are coming from a person or/and the situation which is affecting us but we have no possibility to change it, so individuals adopt different strategies to handle the situation. For example, they can neglect the presence of the person/situation. However this strategy can lead to the situation of dissonance, which is annoying and disturbing for the individuals. Under this situation, individuals put some efforts to bring consonance by adopting various strategies such as avoiding the situation or interaction with people with whom they have extreme differences; however this strategy further spoils communication and relationship. Consequently, either they resign or organization fires them. The relation of the three as discussed above is shown in the table 1:

Figure 1
State of Incoming Information Type of Involvement Cognitive Reaction
IEL Non-Corresponding Calculative Dissonance
IEL Corresponding Moral Consonance
IEL Opposite Alienative Iirrelevant

In conclusion, whether Individual ego-level is hurt or not depends on the communication. The satisfied ego-level, of course, affects the interpretation of others’ behaviour positively and motivational level of the individual moral. Dissonance brings psychological stress which hampers the communication. If information is quite opposite to our IEL we reject it as irrelevant. If it is non-corresponding then we interpret in our own way because individuals prefer to have a cognitive consonance – may or may not it spoils interpersonal communication

The article is based on the thesis Organizational and Psychology: Defining Conscious and Unconscious Minds of Organization, University of Bergen, Norway.

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