Luft & Ingham - The Johari Window

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

The Johari Window is a very widely used model of self awareness. It describes social interaction according to the degree of self knowledge involved. The model's name is an amalgam of the given names of its developers; Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham (Luft, 1970; 1969). The framework consists of a four-paned "window," offering four different "views" on social self-awareness. In PAEI order, these are the Blind/Unaware, Open, Unknown and Hidden views. These views are described in more detail below.

The four panes in this model do not have fixed dimensions. For example, in a job interview, the "Open" windowpane of each participant could be depicted as occupying a fairly small area of their overall window, simply because they start the interview as strangers. However, if the interview is successful, their “Open” panes will increase in area, due to mutual self-disclosure (which is precisely the process of moving self-information to the Open pane). Of course a change in the area of any one windowpane will affect all of the other panes in the window.

P - Quadrant 2: Unaware (Unknown to Self, but Known to Others)
This is a negative category of self awareness, describing the case where everybody can see the motives, limitations, social goals and impulses of a person, except the person themselves. Producers are often found in this windowpane. They are so pragmatic that they resist other (AEI) concerns, but they think they are only responding to the demands of the task itself. They often cut short interactions that they feel are too abstract, picky or touchy-feely. Producers think that tasks themselves impose this abrupt, short-term concern horizon on all (sensible) people. Other styles see this impatience or rigid pragmatism instead as aspects of the Producer’s personality - aspect that have to be ‘managed’ during interactions. Where the Producer sees only objective imperatives, others see the character of the Producer at work.

A - Quadrant 1: Open (Known to Self and Others)
This window illuminates only those things a person already knows or acknowledges about themselves, which other people also see and know about. Administrators by far prefer this clear, explicit/understood, non-mysterious pane of the window, and they do all of their communication in this mode whenever possible. The twist with strong administrators is that they do not want the area of this windowpane to grow very large over their personalities. They prefer to stick to a limited subset of reliably safe self-disclosures. They are happy to live with large Blind or Hidden areas, and prefer that the boundaries of their windowpanes remain as stable as possible.

E - Quadrant 4: Unknown (Unknown to both Self and Others)
This is the playground of E. It is filled of snippets from last night's dreams, inexplicable hunches, suddenly becoming alert before something that reminds you of something you can't quite express, and how your mind wanders when you aren't paying attention. The great talent of E lies in their ability decipher meaningful patterns in this soup of intuition, and then to move this information into the Open quadrant.

I - Quadrant 3: Hidden (Known to Self, but Unknown to Others)
Strong Integrators are good at managing emotions, mediating conflicts, managing impressions and using communication to attain their goals. While they do tend to disclose and resolve problems in the open windowpane, they are most skilled at keeping their feelings and reactions in check while they communicate strategically with people. A supervisor with a big I might be disappointed in the performance of an employee, but to give the employee the benefit of the doubt, the supervisor might not let this disappointment show, and instead take steps to see if some problem is bothering the employee that the supervisor is not aware of. Integrators are often very aware of their own feelings, and they also typically have a great deal of control over how and when they express those feelings. Their capacity to make strategic use of the hidden pane makes them ideal for handling sensitive interpersonal interactions.

Open interaction is the easiest kind, and it accounts for much of our social interaction. It takes energy to maintain information in the Unaware or Hidden panes. We experience a sense of release or relief when that information moves into the Open pane. The unknown area is another matter. There is a universal curiosity about it, but this curiosity is warded off by taboos, fears, social customs and traditional responses to encounters with mystery. Entrepreneurs are thus incompletely socialized around the unknown, and Administrators are perhaps oversocialized against it (although temperament surely plays a role as well). Group values and stipulations of group membership can be revealed in the collective resources available for confronting the unknown.

In an environment of mutual trust, the Open area of peoples' windows tends to be large. As trust and comfort levels rise, the Open area grows. Threats or fears constrict the Open area. The smaller this area is, the less efficient communications will be.

1. Luft, J. (1969). Of Human Interaction. Palo Alto, California: National Press.
2. Luft, J. (1970). Group processes; an introduction to group dynamics (2 ed.). Palo Alto, California: National Press Books.
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