The Meaning of Respect Under Varying Context Conditions


  • Christoph Daniel Schaefer
  • Steffen Zitzmann
  • Lukas Loreth
  • Julian Paffrath
  • Hilmar Grabow
  • Michael Loewy
  • Bernd Simon


The concept of respect figures prominently in several theories on intergroup relations. Previous studies suggested that the experience of being respected is primarily related to the feeling of being recognized as an equal, as opposed to social recognition of needs or achievements. Those studies focused, however, on either minority groups or ad hoc groups, thereby possibly giving equality recognition an advantage. This article extends previous findings by comparing societal groups situated in various contexts. We examined eight groups from four countries. We anticipated and found that the link between respect and equality recognition was stronger for groups that are in the position of minorities compared to groups associated with majorities. Owing to the moral and legal force of the norm of equality, disadvantaged minorities in particular might be able to improve their societal position by founding their claims on the equality principle. Need recognition, in contrast, was less influential for minority groups than for majority groups. While we observed these context-dependent variations, an internal meta-analysis showed that feeling recognized as an equal was, overall, the strongest indicator for feeling respected. This suggests that demands for respect could often be addressed by establishing relationships in society that are based on mutual recognition as equals, while the implications of achievement and need recognition should additionally be considered in specific contexts.