A Look at the Rolefulness Quadrant Model

Nick: We are back with episode 6 of the Rolefulness Podcast. I'm Nick Kemp, and my co-host is Professor Daiki Kato. And in this episode, we explore the Rolefulness Quadrant Model developed by Professor Daiki Kato. Daiki, it's good to have you back on the show, good to see you.

Daiki: Yeah, thank you. So let's enjoy today's podcast. 

The Quadrant model of rolefulness

The quadrant model of rolefulness
The quadrant model of rolefulness

Nick: Alright, so we're looking at something you created in your paper. And this is the Quadrant Model of Rolefulness, developed by you. And also, I think with some help from Mikie Suzuki. You introduce this idea of a quadrant model of rolefulness. So what is the model? And how do we relate it to rolefulness?

Daiki: My study revealed that social rolefulness is developed first, followed by internal rolefulness. This relationship underpins the quadrant model, which explores where people are with respect to both types of rolefulness.

Nick: Alright, so there are essentially four types of states, I guess we could say. And briefly, the first one is immature, then groundless, then developing, and then integrated. So we'll go through each in detail.  


Immature state of rolefulness

Immature state of rolefulness

So immature, what is that state of rolefulness?

Daiki: Immature means both social and internal rolefulness are low. Our studies showed that the immature group has high risks of mental health. For example, self-esteem is lowest in this group, and they have difficulty to feel role satisfaction.

Nick: I see. So this could include people who probably think they don't have a role in society, yes?

Daiki: Yeah.

Nick: Do you think this is influenced by age or lack of life experience?

Daiki: Yes. Some reasons may relate with low rolefulness. For example, age and experience are important factors, we use the data of Japanese high school students between 60 and 80 years old. The adolescents feel difficulty with establishing their identity, and it may be a reason for role confusion.

Keeping relationships with several people, such as friends, teachers, and parents is a good way to increase rolefulness for them.

Nick: I think that makes sense. Teenagers might have this sense of lack of rolefulness. They're not immature, but they feel this lack of role or low social and internal rolefulness. And I think we've touched on this, maybe even people who retire and they kind of lose this role, but maybe they fall back into maybe the next section, groundless.  

Groundless state of rolefulness

Groundless state of rolefulness

Let's touch on groundless. So what's that state?

Daiki: Groundless is low social rolefulness and high internal rolefulness. Can I introduce it more?

Nick: Yeah. So what are some typical examples of people who would be groundless?

Daiki: Perhaps, listeners would think that this group is a little strange because the members of the group have poor social roles, but they have much internal rolefulness.

Maybe you'll think it is a bit strange. But the number of students who belong to the groundless group were not that many, according to our study, but they do exist. 

So some of the students fall in this group category. They feel confidence and satisfaction for themselves and their life, but they don't have connection with others and role satisfaction in real life, actually.

Nick: So this is unusual. How could someone have internal rolefulness without social rolefulness? How is it possible to have internal rolefulness without social rolefulness?

Daiki: Yeah. It's a very important question. And it's very difficult to explain, but I will try. In fact, I think that we need to investigate the details of the groundless group carefully. The results of the study showed that the indexes of mental health were not good in this group. 

Therefore, they need to keep a balance of social and internal rolefulness, generally. Daily conversations with intimate people like family and friends may be helpful for them.

And I have another hypothesis about the groundless group. Some people with very good talents, such as art and intelligence, often have difficulty with social relationships. 

They are not outgoing, friendly, but they can apply their skills for the society. It may increase the internal rolefulness without real social experience. The research topic of the relationship between social withdrawal, hikikomori, and rolefulness is an interesting research topic in the future studies.

Nick: Yeah, this area is interesting in regard to whether or not people who have hikikomori or people who are hikikomori. So that's a form of extreme social withdrawal, which would fit into this area of the quadrant model, or are they immature.

Also, this kind of reminds me of my father; my father was a physicist, and he preferred not to have friends. He sort of didn't need friends. But he was still very skilled, I guess, socially, he could obviously engage in conversations and whatnot, but he preferred his own company, and that of his family.

So it was almost like he preferred low social rolefulness, but he had an extremely high level of internal rolefulness.

Daiki: So I think some geniuses, the type of this group, they're not good at communicating with others, but they have very good talents and they have very high internal rolefulness. That is a very interesting point. 

Developing state of rolefulness

Developing state of rolefulness

Nick: It is interesting. So then moving on, we move on to developing. And this is high social rolefulness, but still low internal rolefulness. Do you think most people fit into this quadrant model or not?

Daiki: Yeah, I think so, many people are in this quadrant. Many adolescents are in the period of developing. According to Erikson's developmental theory. 

So Erik Erikson is a very famous developmental psychologist. So according to his theory, establishing identity and role confusion is an important task in adolescence. 

Therefore, many adolescents face role conflict and they are challenged to connect their social roles and identity. Perhaps not only adolescents but also many adults are now in the developing stage.

Rolefulness is being developed through our life and lifelong learning of rolefulness is important to enrich our life.

Nick: Indeed, it is. So this is interesting. I've kind of reflected on my own life and felt maybe there were periods in my life where I felt I was in this area of the quadrant model, developing.

And so I guess it brings the question, why is it that we struggle sometimes with internal rolefulness despite having strong social connections and relationships? 

Because I think, throughout my life, I've always had strong connections, good relationships with friends and family. So why do we struggle with this internal rolefulness even if we have strong social connections?

Daiki: We do have social roles in our daily lives, but it is not easy to find its meaning. Focusing on the daily role and thinking about it is important to find its meaning and be satisfied with it. In the beginning, it may be a little difficult to do yourselves. 

Talking with someone about your roles might help you to increase your internal rolefulness. Of course, the rolefulness worksheet is very useful for finding the meaning of your role and enriching your internal rolefulness.

Nick: Glad you mentioned that. So if our listeners are interested, they can download our rolefulness worksheets, and there's your scale and some reflection, journaling they can do.

So I guess this relates to our level of self-esteem, how much meaning we find in our roles or our life, and yeah, if we're living a life, or if we're becoming the person, or we are the person we want to be in the various roles we have. 

So I guess that makes sense. If we're struggling to find meaning in our roles, we're going to have this low level of internal rolefulness. 

Integrated state of rolefulness 

Integrated state of rolefulness

And then hopefully, we get to integrate it, which is both high, yes? So both high social and internal rolefulness. So what are the characteristics of someone who is integrated?

Daiki: It's the final goal of rolefulness development. As you introduced, the integrated group has both high social and internal rolefulness. They have many social experiences and are satisfied with them.

This social satisfaction has been internalised and formed confidence. The research evidence showed that identities were established in this group, and their mental health is very good, too.

Nick: I see. So a good place to be. So then how do we move from developing to integrated?

Daiki: As I said previously, internalising social experience is very important. But it's not a special thing, and you can do it in your daily lives. For example, talking and keeping relationships with others and respecting each others' roles are good ways to integrate rolefulness.

Nick: I see. So it's quite simple. I think it goes back to our episode where we talked about increasing rolefulness on episode four. So greetings, conversations, expressing gratitude. So I guess we should point out that being integrated doesn't mean you're a perfect self-actualized human being. 

You still have room for growth and for learning, it just means socially you're integrated, you have good social connections, and then you can internalise that and have a sense of identity, strong sense of self-confidence in the way you communicate. And perhaps, you're kind of happy with who you are. Would that be the case?

Daiki: Yeah, we are growing and our rolefulness is growing, too. For example, you feel rolefulness now and you feel that you are in the integrated group. In the future, you will experience more things and your rolefulness is also changing. Maybe the capacity for rolefulness is growing. 

Perhaps the maximum level of rolefulness is developing higher in the future. I think it's very important--everyone now knows that. Rolefulness is growing and changing. I think it's very important.

Nick: Okay, so with growth, there's more rolefulness or with rolefulness, I guess, there's also more growth. So it's cyclical, it supports each other.

I guess it's also possible for someone to be integrated, and then for some sort of reason, maybe they lose their job or maybe they suffer a divorce or something, is it possible that they fall back into developing? Do you think?

Daiki: Yes. So each roles, like our job positions or our professions relate with the development of our rolefulness. But rolefulness is more common sense.

So now, I work as a psychologist, so I am a professional psychologist, but when I go back to my home, I have the role of a father, so the role is different. 

But the sense of rolefulness is common between those two roles: psychologist and father. So I communicate with my students or colleagues, and when I go back home, I communicate with my family and relatives.

So the experience, I feel happy connecting with my colleagues and families, so it gives me satisfaction and happiness. So that kind of common sense is rolefulness. Each specific roles, of course, relates with rolefulness. But they're very basic common sense, too.

Nick: So it's not role specific. So, even if you lost your job, you can still have this role in your family or with your friends or even if you do have a family breakup, you could still feel both social and internal rolefulness in your other roles.

I guess we need to remind the listeners, this is very kind of easy to achieve--this state of integrated.Through these acts of greetings, conversations, expressing gratitude, which can do in almost any role.

Daiki: Yes, yeah. In this episode, I said that respecting each other's role is important. It is the same thing with showing gratitude. So in any role, respecting other's roles and showing gratitude are common ways to increase our rolefulness and integrated social and internal rolefulness.

Nick: So that's almost like a role synergy or mutual rolefulness, you share your rolefulness or you allow people the freedom to have their rolefulness. So maybe we'll talk about that more in the future. So Daiki, where are you? Are you developing? Are you integrated?

Daiki: I wish I'm in integrated. But actually, I'm in developing.

Nick: Really? I don't think so. I think you're fully integrated.

Daiki: How about you, Nick, which quadrant are you in?

Nick: I'm probably integrated but sometimes my negative self-talk might say, 'No, you're not. You're still immature. You're still developing.'

But yeah, I guess, if we keep in mind, it's not role specific, it's across all your roles and these very basic in-person interactions, then, yeah. You know, I went out last night with a friend, so there was that friendship and a sense of rolefulness, just catching up and having a good time. 

And then, earlier in the week, I was involved with some public speaking group, and I have a role in that group. And I connect all these people, and we're socialising and then helping each other and there is that sense of rolefulness, both social and then internal afterwards, reflecting on it. 

So often, I feel a strong sense of rolefulness in these smaller roles, where it's easy, it's more social, and I'm just connecting or catching up with friends. And maybe in my more professional role, because I'm so focused on it and wanting to do my best, maybe sometimes I kind of struggle with my rolefulness thinking I have to achieve more. 

But that's not really what we're talking about, is it? It's interesting to reflect on. What about you, Daiki? When do you kind of feel rolefulness more intensely? In family, with friends, or at work?

Daiki: Both of them. So in work, of course, I feel rolefulness. But also spending time with my family, I feel happiness and rolefulness. So the point of view about the types of roles, how the types of roles influence development of role satisfaction, rolefulness, is a very interesting viewpoint. 

If you have very professional roles like medical doctors or politicians, very big roles, you feel what we call yarigai in Japan, very worthwhile.

But at the same time, you may feel very strong responsibilities and pressures. And so it depends on the roles. But I, myself, feel rolefulness both in work and private situations, like time with my family.

Nick: Nice. Well, you must be integrated then. Awesome. I think we'll wrap up this episode, and I think in the next episode, we might explore people who struggle to have a high level of internal rolefulness and maybe fit into either immature or developing. 

So we'll be looking at hikikomori in the next episode. Alright, Daiki, good to catch up. Thank you for your time today.

Daiki: Yeah, thank you, too.