|Theory & History||
Relationship Awareness Theory® is a self-learning model for effectively and accurately understanding the motivation behind behaviour. Relationship Awareness gives organizations and individuals the awareness and skills they need to build more effective personal and professional relationships. It helps them to sustain those relationships through understanding the underlying, motivations of themselves and others, under two conditions: when things are going well and during conflict.
The theory helps people to recognize that they are free to choose their behaviours to accommodate their underlying values, while also taking into account the values of others. It is a dynamic and powerful way of looking at interpersonal communication that aids in building effective communication and productive work relationships.
THE FOUR PREMISES OF THE THEORY
Dr. Porter integrates quite diverse streams of psychological thought. In particular, he acknowledges the purposive behaviourism of Edward Tolman, the empiricism of Kurt Lewin, the client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers and the Neo-Freudian personality theories of Erich Fromm and Karen Horney. The theory itself is founded on four premises:
Relationship Awareness looks at how we go about establishing and maintaining relationships in order to have a positive sense of ourselves and our value as a person. It addresses the motives that are behind our behaviour when we are relating to others. It assumes that there is meaning behind all behaviour. By shifting our focus from only looking at behaviour to looking at the motive behind the behaviour, we gain a clearer understanding of ourselves and others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elias H. Porter, Ph.D. (1914–1987) was an influential Psychologist, Clinical Therapist, Educator, and author. While at the University of Chicago, he was a peer of other notable American psychologists, including Carl Rogers, Thomas Gordon, Abraham Maslow and Will Schutz. Porter’s most notable contributions to the field of psychology were in the areas of non-directive counselling (he contributed to Carl Rogers’ development of Client Centred Therapy) and the development of Relationship Awareness Theory.
Porter’s Relationship Awareness Theory is a set of ideas that provide a window into the motivation that drives behaviour. Out of this theory, he developed the Strength Deployment Inventory® (SDI®), a psychometric self-assessment inventory that serves as the primary Relationship Awareness learning tool for individuals and groups. The SDI is the flagship tool in a suite of eight self-assessment inventories that provide valuable insight into the motivation behind behaviour, and a means to understand how we see ourselves, learn how others see us, and gain awareness of expectations in our respective roles.
EDUCATION & CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
Elias H. Porter received his Ph.D. degree in Psychology from the Ohio State University in 1941. While pursuing doctoral studies, he was appointed as an Assistant in psychology and taught a variety of courses. Porter spent seven years at the University of Chicago, where he served as a staff member of the Counselling Centre under Carl Rogers. Porter’s work contributed to Rogers’ development of Client-Centered Therapy.
During his time at University of Chicago he also began combining teaching with clinical work to author An Introduction to Therapeutic Counselling, a publication devoted to non-directive counselling. It was here also that he began his research into self-concept, which led to his development of Relationship Awareness Theory in early 1970.
His earliest influences included the works of Erich Fromm and Carl Rogers. Through his collaboration with Rogers at the University of Chicago, he evolved Fromm’s Freudian frame of reference into a person-centered approach to describe the dynamics of relationships.
Dr. Porter held teaching posts at the University of Oregon, University of California at San Diego, and University of California at Los Angeles. He served as associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, and maintained a private practice through the years. His industrial and organizational experience included the positions of Assistant Director of Human Factors Directorate at System Development Corporation and Senior System Scientist at Technomics, Inc. Porter’s involvement with the RAND Corporation yielded his second book, Manpower Development in 1964. Manpower Development was one of the first published works to view organizational systems as complete organisms. Dr. Porter founded Personal Strengths Publishing, Inc. in 1971, and served as President until his death in December 1987.