Workers’ instrumental treatment is commonly seen as a strategic way to reach organizational goals. Drawing on relevant recent literature, this paper sought to show experimentally that instrumental treatment is instead associated with negative outcomes for the individual and the organization. We sought to demonstrate that treating people as instruments would lead them to self-objectify–to self-perceive as objects rather than human beings–which would result in them being less engaged in a given task, thus undermining their performance. Study 1 was designed to provide a first test of our hypotheses by manipulating the instrumental (vs. non-instrumental) treatment enacted by an experimenter toward naïve participants (N = 85) during the performance of a cognitive task. Study 2 consisted in a simulated online work activity in which participants (N = 147) were asked to play the role of a proofreader for a fictitious newspaper, while being treated in an instrumental (vs. non-instrumental) way by the editorial staff. The results provided convergent evidence about the hypothesized process: being instrumentally (vs. non-instrumentally) treated leads people to self-objectify (i.e., to self-perceive as more instrument-like than human) and, in turn, their engagement with the task and performance are undermined. Implications for organizational and social psychology research are discussed.

Being Treated as an Instrument: Consequences of Instrumental Treatment and Self-Objectification on Task Engagement and Performance

Andrighetto L.
2021

Abstract

Workers’ instrumental treatment is commonly seen as a strategic way to reach organizational goals. Drawing on relevant recent literature, this paper sought to show experimentally that instrumental treatment is instead associated with negative outcomes for the individual and the organization. We sought to demonstrate that treating people as instruments would lead them to self-objectify–to self-perceive as objects rather than human beings–which would result in them being less engaged in a given task, thus undermining their performance. Study 1 was designed to provide a first test of our hypotheses by manipulating the instrumental (vs. non-instrumental) treatment enacted by an experimenter toward naïve participants (N = 85) during the performance of a cognitive task. Study 2 consisted in a simulated online work activity in which participants (N = 147) were asked to play the role of a proofreader for a fictitious newspaper, while being treated in an instrumental (vs. non-instrumental) way by the editorial staff. The results provided convergent evidence about the hypothesized process: being instrumentally (vs. non-instrumentally) treated leads people to self-objectify (i.e., to self-perceive as more instrument-like than human) and, in turn, their engagement with the task and performance are undermined. Implications for organizational and social psychology research are discussed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1072746
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