Integral Review

A Transdisciplinary and Transcultural Journal For New Thought, Research, and Praxis

Beyond Social Exchange Theory: An Integrative Look at Transcendent Mental Models for Engagement

Latha Poonamallee and Sonia Goltz

Abstract: In this paper, we develop an integrative conceptual framework capturing the underlying mental models that guide engagement in relationships at work and elsewhere. Specifically, we are looking at mental models that go beyond egocentrism and social exchange, which have served as the basis for most frameworks found in research on organizations. The goal of this paper is to present a more complex picture of human cognition and behavior that suggests that egocentrism is not an exclusive motivator. We view this more integrative framework as a set of concentric circles of increasingly inclusive and expansive identities. Although the mental models used by individuals may be static over a shorter time frame, they are thought to be more dynamic over a relatively longer timeframe, in adaptive response to changing conditions. Movement between these mental models can be triggered by changes in cognitions as well as by events that arouse affect.

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