Inauthenticity & Self-Dehumanization: Disconnection from the Self Causes a Loss of Humanity


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People need to feel authentic at work, but authenticity is not always a priority in organizations. This dissertation shows feeling authentic is essential to feeling human. Chapter 1 provides an overview of research on authenticity and self-dehumanization, describing why feeling inauthentic leads to self-dehumanization. Chapter 1 empirically supports the association between inauthenticity and self-dehumanization in ten studies, including a study of employees’ experiences after being forced to work from home during a pandemic. Chapter 1 also shows autonomy mediates inauthenticity and self-dehumanization. Finally, Chapter 1 highlights consequences to feeling inauthentic and subsequently less human, most notably, feeling burned out. Chapter 2 identifies three mechanisms that link feeling inauthentic to feeling less human: lack of self-concept awareness, autonomy, and social connection. Chapter 2 uses an inductive, mixed-methods study to illustrate how these mechanisms concretely manifest in people’s lives. Two final studies are proposed for future work. The first tests what aspects of inauthenticity most strongly predict self-dehumanization. Lastly, for employees unable to escape the inauthenticity they feel at work, we propose an intervention study to reduce the effect of inauthenticity on self-dehumanization. Ultimately, this work shows when people sacrifice authenticity for work, they are sacrificing their humanity.

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