Why do other people respect you

The magazine - No. 69

Asked in a disrespectful way: Why is an entire research area concerned with the topic of respect?

Respect is a central form of social recognition and something like the glue of society. In everyday life we ​​speak of respect when someone has achieved a special achievement at school, at work or in sports. However, our research has shown that people primarily associate respect with recognition as an equal counterpart. In a liberal society, everyone is equally entitled to respect. It is important to see us as an equal member of society.

Why is respect so important for cohesion in society?

Those who are treated with respect have the feeling that they are not being ignored, that they are taken seriously and that they are heard. It is a fundamental value of our togetherness and enables autonomy, participation and identification as a common group. Respect, as well as other forms of social recognition, shape our self-image from early childhood and are important for a healthy identity development.

Why do some people get more and some less respect?

Whoever speaks of “respectable person” means a definition of respect based on achievement or authority. The Federal President, a police officer or a teacher, for example, receives recognition for their special achievement or role. Equality-based respect, on the other hand, should not be distributed differently, as it relates to the recognition of fundamental rights. In a just society everyone should get the feeling: "You have equal rights and are taken seriously."

Can I find someone really stupid and not respect them?

Respect doesn't mean you have to agree and find yourself sympathetic! I can reject what you stand for and find bad what you do or think. But I still see you as an equal part of society and allow you to express your opinion. We call what comes out tolerance: Tolerance is rejection that has been tamed by respect.

But I can't respect anyone who treats others badly. Shouldn't it also apply: No tolerance of intolerance?

Tolerance can definitely stop where democratic basic values ​​are attacked, in which case one would speak of justified rejection. It is an area of ​​tension that people can get into, and it is the task of society to lay down the rules from when a certain behavior can no longer be tolerated.

What can you do about it if you are shown little respect?

It is important to articulate your demands. Always remaining silent when there is disrespect is problematic for the psyche. My research has shown that people with a high level of self-respect are more likely to stand up for their rights.

What does self respect mean?

It is the conviction that you are really fundamentally equal and of equal value. People who experience a lot of respect train him to be stronger. Self-respect arises through the internalization of experiences of respect and enables self-assertive behavior. For example, if I belong to a minority and am discriminated against because of the color of my skin, a high level of self-respect is beneficial in order to say something against it. People who have received little respect cannot internalize this self-image and find it difficult to stand up for their rights or simply to say “no”. Only a more respectful environment can equip them with the skills to be able to stand up for their rights better at some point.

The Black Power movement chose Aretha Franklin's "Respect" as their unofficial anthem in the 1960s. Most recently, women under #MeToo and migrants under #MeTwo demanded more respect.

These movements have fought against disrespectful treatment and for more equality. So the term respect fits very well there. At least if the fight is not primarily designed to harm others. In the #MeToo movement, for example, there were a few women who not only wanted more respect and rights for women, but above all wanted all men to be put on the lid. This then has less to do with demanding respect and more to do with expectations and revenge behavior.

But it is true that women are treated with less respect.

It is true that women are not given equal rights in many contexts. Classical role models still often fix them in certain areas and thus make access to others more difficult. Incidentally, men also suffer from gender role models. Women from typical male professions and men from typical female professions are excluded - regardless of whether they would be suitable as persons for this profession. It very much depends on the possibilities that are exemplified in everyday life. If in films the man is usually the hero and the woman is only the beautiful companion, this reinforces certain stereotypes. Women tend to be passive, men are the decision-makers who are suitable for management positions, for example.

If you look at the abuse and excitement on Twitter or Facebook, you get the impression that the disrespect is increasing.

We live in a time in which diverse social and political positions clash and accordingly often opposing opinions are represented. The anonymity of the internet makes disrespectful behavior easier because you don't have to look each other in the eye. But some trends can also be seen offline. The tone in social debates is becoming rougher and the line of respect is being crossed more frequently.

Even politicians are often disrespectful to one another in debates in the Bundestag or on political talk shows.

I have the impression that some politicians use disrespect as a strategy for political argument. Sure, they have different opinions on topics, but they should adhere to norms and rules and respect each other as interaction partners. That way, a democratic exchange is possible.

Are there any examples of more respect?

Since last year homosexuals have had equal rights in marriage. The struggle for recognition is a constant process of negotiation: who should belong to society, who should be granted equal rights? It has to be questioned again and again how much respect which group receives in society. 120 years ago women could not study and vote. The fight for equal rights has achieved a great deal.

What role does respect play in an immigrant society?

Mutual respect is an important basis for arriving at a common identity. We have our constitution and our constitutional state as a basis. Society can expect that to be respected and the law to be followed. In the process, there are also influences in society that one was not yet familiar with and that one has to get used to. Tolerance, and thus also respect, requires enduring and accepting unreasonable demands. The good thing about it: If I get respect, I'm more willing to give it. But someone has to start.

A responsible citizen can only be someone who has received social recognition. How this arises and how it expresses itself is investigated by Dr. phil. Daniela Renger with her students at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel.