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Dehumanization in Organizational Contexts

"Such dehumanizing maltreatments are likely to have a detrimental effect on psychological wellbeing. According to self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are met. Dehumanizing maltreatments, however subtle, lead to impaired ability to satisfy these needs and may therefore directly contribute to mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. In short, the scientific evidence does not support the view of everyday dehumanization as an innocent and inconsequential phenomenon; on the contrary, the evidence clearly demonstrates a range of significant negative consequences."

"A distinction between social and physical problem solving has been suggested at the neural level. Social reasoning about the mental states of others [empathy] is associated with increased recruitment of the brain’s “default” network and reduced recruitment of the so called “task-positive” network; conversely, “mechanistic” reasoning about physical objects appears to be associated with increased recruitment of the “task-positive” network and reduced recruitment of the “default” network (Jack et al., 2012). Although these two networks are involved in multiple processes and the specificity of their function is still under much debate, they appear to be frequently anti-correlated during conditions of “rest” (Fox et al., 2005) and during many standard cognitive tasks (Shulman et al., 1997)."

Of particular note:
"psychological wellbeing requires that the basic psychological needs of *autonomy, competence, and relatedness* are met."

It's been a rare thing among jobs I've held that autonomy is something that is respected. Only in the most menial of tasks (material moving, custodial) did I experience it (and this is something that is informing my current job search - I'm of the opinion at this point that the lower the pay and lower the demands, the better it's going to be for my well-being.) In any other case, micromanagement was generally the rule of law.

I don't think I'm alone in this experience, either - and part of the rise in anxiety and depression could very well be directly correlated to trends in our interpersonal (hierarchical) relationships, especially in the workplace.

As another thought, related to the second block quote...if your goal was to produce a society that was *as physically/materially productive as possible* and you believed that achieving that involved maximizing their 'task positive' neural network, you might be inclined to try and *reduce or eliminate their empathy* as much as humanly possible.