Last Friday, we hosted a Virtual Think IT Meeting on Brain Science. Paula Winkler, COO Partner at The Disruptive Element and Laura Woodward, CEO Principle, Senior Consultant at The Disruptive Element, shared their knowledge on brain science and how our brains are being affected during this pandemic. A huge thank you to all those who joined us! 

Our brains are hardwired. Their number one function is to keep us safe and alive.  Certainty makes our brain predictable, but our brains have learned how to respond to change. Change is a sign of threat to our brain, and due to all this change during this pandemic, our brain is sensing a threat. We all have different emotional ways of showing how we are being threatened. All the reactions we may have are valid due to our brain, believing that this threat is change 

Paula and Laura introduced the SCARF Model: 

S- Status: Less than or better than others 

C- Certainty: Ability to predict outcomes 

A- Autonomy: Sense of control 

R- Relatedness: In or out of a group 

F- Fairness: Perception of a fair exchange  

The SCARF Model is a summary of how the brain socially interacts with threats and rewards. The brain treats social threats and rewards with the same or greater intensity as physical threats and rewards. When we are trying to make decisions or solve problems, our brain has a harder time doing so when threatened but an easier time when being rewarded. Our brain’s response to threat is usually more common than the response to reward. We come across more triggers related to threats.  

Some threat trigger examples that correspond to the SCARF Model are: 

Status trigger: Wearing a mask when you go out 

Autonomy trigger: Not being able to control when you can go back into the office 

Fairness trigger: They are getting to paid to work remote, but I am not 

One of the most significant factors that triggers every component of the SCARF Model is lack of communication. This could be why people’s SCARF Model is completely different now than it was before the pandemic. During the session, we were able to break out into virtual groups to discuss which component of the SCARF Model was our number one trigger during this time and what we think it would be once everything goes back to normal. 

Paula and Laura mentioned that it is important to understand yourself and your brain before you can help and understand others. We are not the best version of ourselves in threat mode and which is why times like these can be difficult. This topic is something that would be interesting to come back to and see if your SCARF Model has changed from now to where it will be after the pandemic.  If you were unable to join, you can view the full session here.