The Scarf Model

Published on 14 May 2017

The SCARF Model was developed by David Rock of Results Coaching International, and was created to describe the social concerns that influence human behaviour. The brain is is scanning the environment several times every second looking at threats (negatives) and rewards (positives). The SCARF model say that these are some of the key ones are:

  • Status
  • Certainly
  • Autonomy
  • Releatedness
  • Fairness


This relates to how we perceive out importance to others. Obviously when we don't feel we hold any importance, we are going to be less happy, and less effective, than when we do feel that.


Change is great generally. Sometimes it can be scary though, and people do react different ways. Where change causes uncertainty though, it can definitely be negative. So organisational changes where someone doesn't know where they will be in twelve months, they are much less relaxed and effective. Where change can be good, is where it that future position can be predicted.


People generally don't like to be micromanaged. If you are working in factory putting lids on jam jars, then there are probably very few options as to how you can do your job. For the majority of people in a modern economy though, that just isn't true. In IT, it definitely isn't true.


How safe do we feel? Are we surrounded by friends? Or foes? How can we relate with those we work with? Do we feel part of the group? While we may not be in physical danger in the office, that doesn't mean we are surrounded by friends.


Are there sufficient ground rules and expectations for everyone to follow? Is there any transparency so this is clear?


The key is to increase the positive feelings that people feel towards these areas, such as status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness. Move from threat, to reward.

There is a great article about this here.

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