David Rock’s SCARF Model – Using Neuroscience to Work Effectively

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David Rock's Scarf Model

David Rock Scarf Model is a neuroscience process that helps to comply better with our employees’ cum colleagues. 

It is better used for influencing people to develop their inherent capabilities; it is best to fit those who are not optimum with their efficiency. 

For instance, consider a scenario; Raj is the marketing head in a company, and he has ten people working under him. 

After some analysis of employee performance, Raj came to know that one employee was not performing up to the mark. 

So the next very day he sat together with that person to know what he was lacking, and then he got to know that he is not using some strategies correctly for which the results are below par. 

However, he explained to him that, but nothing went in his favour. 

The employee got stubborn and did the work according to his knowledge.

So now, think why the employee did not listen to his superior?

That’s the matter that everyone should understand that you can’t just say to work correctly.

You have to do it in a good manner. 

In this case, the employee got fearful and doubted his skills against his head because of Raj’s rude instructions.

If Raj had put the SCARF concept, then the situation may have happened in the opposite direction.

So I’m going to explain this model, and you will get to know every detail about it in this article.


What is the SCARF Model?

David Rock's Scarf Model

The SCARF Model was quoted by David Rock in 2008, in his published article “SCARF: A Brain-Based Model for Collaborating With and Influencing Others.”

In this name SCARF, every alphabet shows various essential qualities required to influence people’s behaviour in social and workplace situations.

Following are the different terms David Rock has used in his model;

  • Status- Relative importance 
  • Certainty- Ability to predict future
  • Autonomy- Control vital happenings
  • Relatedness- Ability to comfort the person
  • Fairness- Equal treatment with a sense of trust

This model is based on human neuroscience that deals with two key factors in human nature, and they are the opposite as well.

These five elements help to factor in all the positives and flush out the negatives. 

The two key factors are threat and reward. In the above-said story, you can confirm that the more threat you feel towards your ability, the more stubborn you became to your work. 

Moreover, you no longer want to get instructed for every job you perform by your superiors.

So this model is a lifesaver for the higher authorities to get their employees to perform at their optimum level of efficiency. 

Why is this all happening in a negative way when we are threatened; well, some hormones let you do that so nothing is your fault.

When we are insecure about something, a hormone called Cortisol, a stress hormone secrets.

When we are rewarded or praised for something, we secrete a hormone called dopamine, an exciting hormone. 

That’s why whenever we are rewarded for something, we tend to perform better with higher productivity as well as energy.

We are comfortable enough to work with our colleagues and ready to receive instructions given if any.

How to use the David Rock SCARF Model?

If we feel threatened, we tend to go through a lot of stress and working anxiety. As a result, we underperform and neglect our creativity hence loses our ability to solve problems and decision making.

We hardly communicate with our colleagues to work together.

On the other hand, when we are rewarded, we feel more secure and safe.

We want to work together, and our productivity and creativity are at their peak at that time.

We want to perform better, and most of the time we achieve it also.

Now, it’s clear how important threats and rewards are in workspace and social meetings.

Also, it is essential to get to know the five elements deeply.



Taking for granted and leaving behind the instructions may cause the other person to feel inferior to you.

As a result, he gets angry and will hesitate to share anything next time if any situation arises.

This status feel is vital and crucial to take care of as you never know what thing offends the other person professionally and in-person.

However, you can tackle it by letting him or her evaluate himself or herself in his or her past performance.

You can just approach him or her on a very positive note of the typical bossy culture.

Lastly, appreciate your team more than just criticizing them.

The more you make them feel secure, they will work more passionately. 

This process will help them feel highly trustable, and they will work for you like you are his or her family.



Certainty is the most essential aspect to get a job done. When you have not decided on your goal, how can you expect your team to achieve it relentlessly? 

The more vague your goal is, the more delayed it would become to get done with it. 

So we as humans are likely to predict the future.

That’s why you need to see a future vision with a particular goal to instruct your team to reach there. 

Be sure of what you are doing; then only you can assure your colleagues and be sure to reach your goals. 


Autonomy in Scarf Model

Doubt your colleagues on their potential to complete any task is the greatest threat to the employees.

You have to keep trust in your employees and let them do their best job on themselves only. 

Don’t just instruct on every action they perform, until you give them a free hand; you can’t demand productive work. 

Motivate them to grow and develop in their field and acquired skills thereon. 

The more freedom they get, the greater creativity will generate from them.


Relatedness is very much required in terms of complimenting your colleagues better. 

But in most cases, the employees feel isolated in their cubicles due to heavy assignments and least communication as they hesitate to ask. As a result, superiors doubt their efficiency. 

So to increase team communication, you can arrange corporate parties, seminars, etc.

This will build a strong bond between employees and make them work together as a healthy team.


Fairness in Scarf Model

The work stress and anxiety increase to another level if someone feels that something unfair has happened to him. 

This leads to a reduction in efficiency and creativity.

Moreover, this is harmful in keeping the employee loyal to your company.

So to gain the loyalty of your employee, consider them as your assets, not your liabilities. So that they also feel the company is their own. 

And there is nothing wrong with it; you will also get respect and loyalty at the same time without any force.

Remember taking good care of employees is beneficial for their mental health.

As Ratan Tata said, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.”

Key Points of SCARF MODEL

  • SCARF Model is applied to tackle the treat
  • This is used to ensure the reward policy
  • It is helpful for health employee relationship
  • This prompts you to build a healthy team
  • It ensures employee loyalty

Reward increases creativity and efficiency


David rock’s neuroscience of the human brain helps this model as nothing more than an ideal human behaviour to other humans to treat them correctly.

As they say, “A company’s health can be determined by the actions done towards its employees.”Lastly, it is necessary to mention that everyone should understand ideal human brain functions and the neuroscience behind them to excel in professional and social gatherings.

Also, read our blog on Helping your people developing Emotional intelligence


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