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The Status of the Scarf Model within UAE: Challenges and Benefits Report

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Updated: Sep 4th, 2019

Description of scarf model

The SCARF model originates from the study of brain within the domain of social, cognitive and affective neuroscience. Social neuroscience involves the biological foundations of how human beings relate to each other and hence cover diverse areas such as morality, emotions, trust, stereotyping among others.

As a result, two themes emerge: the motivation driving social behavior is controlled by the principle of maximizing reward and minimizing threat; and several areas of social experience call upon the same brain networks to minimize threat or maximize rewards.

As a result, the SCARF model is utilized in summarizing the dualistic themes within an arrangement which borders the universal basic factors that are competent of stimulating a menace or incentive reaction in societal conditions.

The SCARF (status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, fairness) model consists of these five areas of human social experience. These domains appear interlinked but their individual input is most significant. Status involves the relative importance and seniority. In relation to others, humans embrace an image of status when conversing.

According to Zink et al. (2008), this relative importance affects their mental process in many different ways. The main imperative aspect in this realm is the incentive circuitry that is stimulated when an individual’s intellect condition mounts while the dopamine altitude amplifies. Certainty is about the ability to predict the future. Any change creates uncertainty and generating a sense of certainty is rewarding.

Autonomy being the view of plying over an individual’s atmosphere, it proffers a sense of direction above actions conveying in an impression of having substitutes. While an increase in autonomy feels rewarding a reduction can create a strong threat response.

Relatedness refers to a sense of safety with others or a feeling of friendship. It is the decision about whether others are included or excluded from a social group. Fairness is about fair exchanges among people. As asserted by Lieberman and Tabibnia and (2007), unjust interactions generate a robust threat reaction.

Background of Higher Colleges of Technology with Al Ain Men’s College

Al Ain Men’s college is a campus of the larger Higher Colleges of Technology established in 1988. With its humble operations in a temporary campus, the institution has grown into a huge campus with purpose built facilities and attractive gardens. The institution offers a range of courses including engineering technology, business and computer & information science.

As the name suggests, the college is for men alone with about 1000 students. In addition to academic activities, the students engage in other extra curriculum activates such as sporting, recreation, socializing and politicking. Therefore, the college has always attempted to create a positive relationship among students, employees and managers.

However, there have been reported cases that reflect controversies and mismanagement within the Higher Colleges of Technology. In the fiscal 2005, the selection of Kamali to be the vice chancellor brought distress amongst workforce as regards to employment uncertainty initiating numerous resignations (Rizvi, 2005).

Additionally, the structure espoused by this college has been intensely disparaged following the nullification of the merit payment plan consented upon by the management along with cut pay increments (Swan, 2010). In 2010, further case of indifference from the college senior managers towards employees were discovered when newly transferred teachers faced poor working conditions (Swan, 2010).

Moreover, the college management nullified payment agreements denying the employees their contractual-agreed increments causing fierce reactions from the staff (Swan, 2011). These and other issues have negatively affected the important social relationships between the institution managers, the staff and the students.

Problem statement

The social situation in Higher Colleges of Technology reflects the importance of understanding the neurological mechanism that governs the behavior of college stakeholders. The menace reaction is psychologically exhausting and dangerous to the efficiency of workforce of the entire institution. The effect of neural dynamism among the staff is visible in Al Ain Men’s College.

For example, when an administrator prompts a menace reaction, the wits of the workforce become very inefficient. Nevertheless, if the administrators make the personnel and the college learners feel okay, offer them liberty to make pronouncements, undoubtedly converse their prospects to serve the entire college comparatively and prop up the efforts to fabricate excellent affiliation, it would prompt an incentive reaction.

When the college directors comprehend the responsibility of status as an interior distress, they are competent of avoiding executive observations that generate counterproductive menace reactions amongst workforce members.

When they work to create a perception of certainty through employee involvement in planning initiatives or by mapping an organization framework that promote this perception, they will certainly build confidence and dedicated teams. By sustaining self-sufficiency or presenting the shareholders with choices, they inflame a few difficulty reactions than obliging them to take directives.

Dynamic alliance is contingent on healthy associations which call for compassion and confidence. The compassion and confidence sequentially bank on whether the workforce perceives to be an element of the directors’ societal cluster. Understanding the relatedness phenomenon will make the college leaders be able to find many ways to apply it such as when assigning teams of diverse people.

In Al Ain Men’s College, the discernment of inequality might produce an atmosphere in which confidence and cooperation does not succeed. Thus, when directors share information in a suitable approach, they can keep workforce and students occupied and encouraged, even when cutting down the number of workforce.

Normally, SCARF model will proffer a mode of bringing cognizance responsiveness to latently filled contacts and aid alert the institution heads to personnel central concerns.

Literature review

Most of the SCARF model literature has concentrated on the five domains and their importance to leaders as well as the organization at large. These domains appear to be interlinked is some ways, but researchers have valued separate understanding. However, the most significant conclusion about SCARF model is that it is an easy way of remembering and acting upon the social triggers that generate the approach and avoid responses.

According to Rock (2008), the most significant study on status as the first domain in SCARF model was conducted by Marmot. He ended the case that this realm is the most imperative determinant of individuals’ wellbeing and permanence, even when scheming for earnings and edification. Status involves the relative importance and seniority. In relation to others, humans embrace an image of status when conversing.

The individuals’ intellect thinks in relation to position via circuits for dealing out statistics. An increase in status can be compared to a financial windfall. A reduction in status stemming from being excluded in an activity trigger the same regions of human brain as physical pain.

Status can often go up when employees are given positive comments, especially public acknowledgement. However status is determined by the relative position one has in the community and what is valued in that community.

Hawkins and Blakeslee (2004) experimented how the intellect purposes as a pattern-detection appliance that persistently strives to envisage the very close prospect. The intellect is fond of knowing the blueprints occurring after every twinkle and hence desires certainty so as to envisage. Any form of uncertainty may generate an error response and eventually diverting the attention away from the goal towards the error.

The literature further suggests that the creation of certainty is rewarding and meeting expectations lead to an increase in dopamine levels. Reducing uncertainty is the role of leaders and can be achieved by letting all those involved to participate in planning and mapping out the organization structure. Certainty can be increased by making implicit concept more clear or stating clear objectives prior to a discussion.

Autonomy being the discernment of brandishing over an individual’s atmosphere, it proffers a sense of direction over actions that raise an inkling of having substitutes (Rock, 2008). When the discernment of self-sufficiency is amplified, the sense is gratifying. On the other hand, a reduction is autonomy can create a strong threat response.

Such a reduction may b required when working in a team though in a healthy culture the potential threat tends to be neutralized with an increase in the other domain especially certainty, status and relatedness. Rock (2008) has the opinion that an organization provided with significant autonomy is at an advantage.

Concerning relatedness, Rock (2008) supposes this realm as a driver of actions in various sorts of groups, from directorial silos to games team: individuals are logically fond of forming clusters where they acknowledge a sense of togetherness. The conclusion of whether an individual is a pal or an opponent occurs swiftly and distresses brain operations.

In case protected societal relations are inexistent, the individual bodies produce a menace reaction. The domain of relatedness is closely associated with trust and people trust those who seem to be in the same group. Rock identifies one way to increase reward response as to find ways to increase connections between people.

Tabibnia and Lieberman (2007) showed that fair exchanges are inherently rewarding and are independent of other factors. Inequitable interactions craft a brawny menace reaction and may occasionally embrace creation of the narrow-minded (a segment of the brain liable for passionate sensation).

Such a threat can be reduced by increasing transparency, communication and involvement. In addition, establishing clear expectation can also assist in ensuring the occurrence of fair exchanges.

Research methods

The research objective is to make out, in terms of appropriate literature, whether SCARF model can bring conscious awareness to all potentially fraught interactions in Higher Colleges of Technology within Al Ain Men’s College and recommend on the best practices that can promote social behaviors within the institute.

Through the identification and review of the various central themes in previous researches, it is hoped that a picture of the most effective relationship between the college stakeholders will be derived.

The review and examination of the theoretical global appropriate literature would offer a picture of the situation of the current affairs pertaining to social interactions and their effects in the running of Al Ain Men’s College.

Apart from the university library, research engines such as Emerald, Google, published materials by reputed researchers and gurus in this field will be used. There would also be the identification of possible research topics in order to provide clarity in future over a period of longitudinal research to identify new themes and trends.


In Al Ain Men’s College, triumphant facilitators, instructors and coaches naturally utilize the SCARF model. This follows the fact that students are perceived to learn better in subjects which interests them. In this case, interest materializes as a state approach. Educating or training students who always feel collectively unwanted, detached, treated unjustly or threatened proves to be a mounting task.

Educators in Al Ain Men’s College have thus created an encouraging learning atmosphere via particularly calling attention to how students improve (Phelps, 2006). This in turn boosts the students’ status senses.

As observed from this institution, such a step is especially imperative if the students learn something new that might generate threat responses. On the other hand, instructors similarly offer awareness on various autonomies by initiating choices in the classrooms while generating certainty through a clear presentation of outlines on what is to be learnt.

The major aspect in this case is that Al Ain Men’s College tutors, instructors and educators tend to give more significance to the state approach as a requisite learning state. More efforts are generated towards learning and much attention directed towards the maintenance of the state (Tabibnia & Lieberman, 2007).

Through administrative and private coaching, it emanates that all the five elements of SCARF have been increased in Al Ain Men’s College. However, to increase statuses, the college tutors and students ensure that habitual affirmative feedbacks, the realization of goals and concentration to the incremental perfection are realized.

Certainty in this college is increased via the identification of the essential goals and consequently minimizing the uncertainty innate in the maintenance of manifold focuses. It is apparent that when large goals are broken down into minute steps, they seem to enlarge certainty with respect to how the goals could be achieved.

It was found that trying to find ways of taking actions at times when the ensuing challenges materialize to be insuperable might enlarge autonomy. When the associations with the coaches and tutors are strong, relatedness seem to increase (Rizvi, 2005). Fairness nonetheless was reduced when both students and college leaders viewed states of affairs from the other perceptions.

The SCARF model has provided a scientifically healthy framework that Al Ain Men’s College uses to build self-awareness as well as responsiveness of students and college leaders among other leaders. Yet, some new Al Ain Men’s College leaders accidently impacted negatively the SCARF domains.

For example, most of such leaders might have known the direction in which activities ought to be carried out but rather device several directions which yield negligible feedbacks. Hence, this affects the status of all the stakeholders, college leaders and the students’ status. This often occurs when the directors do not offer comprehensible expectations which in turn impacts on certainty (Swan, 2010).

The level of autonomy is impacted by the level of micro-management whereas the maintenance of professional distance appears to impact on relatedness. When the parties involved are not all that transparent enough, they might impact on fairness. If the reverse is the case, both college leaders and students are triggered to work even much harder since they become inherently contented with the association itself.


Based on the study findings, it is clear that the SCARF model identifies the most inventive ways to motivate which might not merely be less expensive, but similarly sustainable and stronger. In fact, in a world where swift changes and mounting interconnectedness is experienced, organizations need to rapidly grow so as to improve the manner in which individuals and groups collectively work.

To easily comprehend the real human social behavior drivers, institutions must become extra urgent within such an environment. This forms the basis of organizations that want to thrive in the currently competitive market environment. Therefore, the Al Ain Men’s College leaders need to adopt the SCARF model in order to be able to handle the threat responses which could in turn lower performance.


SCARF seems to have scores of implications with respect to the manner in which the organization is structured. This incorporates the systems of communications, the flow of information, the reward systems as well as the organization remunerations structures (Lieberman, 2007).

Basically, Higher Colleges of Technology within Al Ain Men’s College adopted the SCARF model to help individuals and groups in maximizing rewards and minimizing threats in their daily experience.

To minimize threats, most students and college leaders seem to have become more conversant with the SCARF domains given that the model has helped them to reassess and mark experiences which could otherwise decrease their performance. In fact, the model assists in managing oneself.

For instance, as applicable in brain studies, re-evaluation and classification are considered to be some of the verified cognitive tools and system used to reduce threat reactions (Hawkins & Blakeslee, 2004). In Higher Colleges of Technology within Al Ain Men’s College, such techniques have proved to be very effectual in condensing the response threat in comparison to the process of attempting to repress the emotions.

Recognizing the SCARF elements has further assisted the Al Ain Men’s College students and other staffs to comprehend issues like why one cannot clearly believe in situations when another person has assaulted their status rather than merely attempting to drive away the feelings.

Besides, understanding the various elements of SCARF has permitted each student and every college leader to amicably devise ways of effectively motivating themselves. A clear illustration relates to the focusing of attention towards rising the students and college leaders’ autonomy sense during uncertainty occasions (Rock, 2008).

For instance, centering on the ecstasy of performing anything they like provided they are unexpectedly out of class or work. The SCARF model aids in giving the reasons why coaching in this college persists to be very effectual as regards to the facilitation of change. It ideally identifies the manner in which each and every college delivery could be improved.


Whereas all the elements of SCARF tend to replicate the key brain networks, the model plays a decisive role appertaining to the collaboration and influence on others.

Within the Al Ain Men’s College, comprehending these drivers seem to assist the organization, groups and individuals to efficiently function, reduce any conflict which might take place very easily between the public and boost the time span these groups take in the state approach. As regards to this college, the concept is considered to be tantamount to better performance.

Thus, comprehending the elements of the SCARF model while unearthing tailored approaches to efficiently utilize such brain insights, may assist this college people in becoming trainers, facilitators, leaders, parents, instructors, administrators and tutors.

The findings concerning the profound collective nature of human brain together with the significance of the SCARF model elements, has offered diminutive steps towards to correct direction.


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Lieberman, M. D. (2007). Social Cognitive Neuroscience: A Review of Core Processes. Annual Review of Psychology, vol.58, pp.259-289.

Phelps, E. A. (2006). Emotion and cognition: Insights from Studies of the Human Amygdala. Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 57, pp.27-53.

Rizvi, M. (2005). . Khaleej Times. Web.

Rock, D. (2008). SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others. Neuro-Leadership Journal, vol.8 (1), pp.1-9.

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