Moreno’s Role Theory
This essay will explore the key concepts of J.L. Moreno‘s role theory, including the different types of roles individuals perform, the importance of social interaction and group dynamics, and the application of role theory in various settings, including psychodrama and education.
Moreno’s role theory also emphasizes the importance of social interaction and group dynamics in determining how individuals behave and present themselves in different contexts. Role theory can be applied in various contexts, such as psychodrama and education.
In psychodrama, individuals are encouraged to explore different roles and perspectives to gain a better understanding of themselves and their relationships with others. In education, role theory can be used to understand how students interact with each other and how certain roles can influence their learning and development.
Psychodrama can be distinguished from other forms of psychotherapy in its emphasis on role-playing as a foundational step in the process of self-discovery and development. This is encapsulated in Moreno’s assertion that role-playing precedes the emergence of the self.
Roles do not emerge from the self, but the self may emerge from roles.J.L. Moreno
Human Development and of Role Theory
Somatic Roles – Moreno believed that we begin to play roles from birth forward, and in some ways, even prebirth. Infant roles might include very basic functions and often related to the body or the somatic roles. Some examples are sleeper, eliminator.
Social Roles – As we continue to develop, we may take on more sophisticated social roles. This are based on our social relationships and include things like son or daughter, sibling, step-child, and so on. The most sophisticated roles are those developed later, as we continue to develop our role-repertoire, and include things like college student, graduate student, doctor, lawyer, rehabilitation officer, concert pianist to name a few.
Psychological Roles – The most sophisticated roles include roles of the psyche, and may include such things as co-dependent, spiritual, fighter, loner and many others.
Moreno believed that for an infant to develop properly, he or she needs doubling. Doubling in psychodrama is a technique used to support and deepen the protagonist’s exploration of their experiences and feelings.
Doubling involves a second person, typically a member of the psychodrama group or a therapist, who takes on the role of the protagonist and speaks on their behalf. The double’s role is to give voice to the protagonist’s inner thoughts and feelings, often in a more dramatic or exaggerated way than the protagonist themselves might be able to do.
Doubling in Human Development and Psychodrama
Doubling is often used when the protagonist is struggling to express themselves, either because they are overwhelmed by emotion or because they are disconnected from their feelings. By having someone else play the protagonist’s role, the protagonist can step back and observe their own experience from a different perspective. This can help the protagonist gain insight into their own feelings and experiences, and can also provide a sense of validation and support.
During doubling, the double may use various techniques to enhance the experience, such as mirroring the protagonist’s body language or using a different tone of voice to emphasize the protagonist’s emotions. The double may also provide commentary or feedback on the protagonist’s experience, which can help the protagonist gain a deeper understanding of their own feelings and motivations.
Overall, doubling is a powerful technique in psychodrama that can help individuals explore their inner world and gain insight into their own experiences and feelings. By providing a safe and supportive environment for this exploration, doubling can help individuals develop greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence, leading to greater personal growth and transformation.
Doubling and mirroring are both necessary to develop beyond the somatic roles that an infant plays. As develop continues, a person must learn to double others. When a young person is understood and their feelings, thoughts, and wishes are taken into account, it can lead to them developing a sense of self and being able to put themselves in someone else’s position. This is an example of showing empathy and is referred to as ‘doubling for others’.
This is a higher degree of relating, a necessary element in forming close, intimate connections. The ultimate level of relating is the encounter, seeing the other person face-to-face, eye-to-eye and revealing one’s truth to the other.Adding New Roles
New roles are added to one’s repertoire throughout life. We do this by first observing others playing the role. As we decide that we want to add that to our role repertoire, then we start with “role playing” which is stagnant and limited. It is based on imitation from the “cultural conserve.”
As we become proficient in our imitation, we can begin to venture outside the cultural conserve, and begin to add our own nuance to the role, thereby expanding it.
We move into the final phase when we turn the role into something the same, but totally new as well. This is role creating, and adds something new to the cultural conserve of roles that didn’t exist before.
According to Moreno’s role theory, the roles we play may be developed as described above, changed, and when they no longer serve us, retired. It is believed that the more a person is able to take on roles without internally conflicting with any of them, the better off they will be. Through the use of psychodrama, it is possible to work through and resolve any conflicting roles.
The Basic Techniques in Psychodrama are Doubling, Mirroring, Role Reversal and Encounter.
In a psychodrama in a group setting, a group member may believe that they have insight into the unspoken thought life of the protagonist. The group member can now take the role of double. He or she will stand behind and slightly to the side of the protagonist. The “double” is then offered to the protagonist. The protagonist may then agree with the double, in which case she can repeat it in her own words. If the protagonist rejects the double, he can change it.
Doubling is a positive double bind, a win–win situation, because either way it helps the protagonist express his true feelings or thoughts. I use doubling to deepen the affect and empower the protagonist and the group to reach as far below the surface as they can in search of meaning, connection, and self-affirmation.J.L. Moreno defined “role” as the actual intangible form which the self takes.
Jacob Gershoni, in The Initial Psychotherapy Interview, 2011
Types of Roles in Moreno’s Role Theory
According to Moreno, there are three types of roles that individuals perform: social roles, cultural roles, and personal roles. Social roles refer to the positions that individuals hold in society, such as parent, teacher, or police officer. Cultural roles are the roles that are defined by the norms and values of a particular culture, such as gender roles or professional roles. Finally, personal roles are the roles that individuals create for themselves, based on their own interests, values, and aspirations.
Moreno believed that individuals are not simply passive recipients of their roles, but rather active participants in defining and performing them. For example, individuals may choose to take on certain roles because they feel they align with their values and interests, or they may redefine existing roles to better suit their needs. This active engagement with roles allows individuals to shape their identity and to establish a sense of purpose and belonging.
The Importance of Social Interaction and Group Dynamics
Moreno’s role theory emphasizes the importance of social interaction and group dynamics in shaping individual behavior and identity. According to Moreno, individuals perform their roles within a social context, and their behavior is influenced by the expectations and feedback of others. Moreno believed that the social context is critical to understanding human behavior, and that social interaction and group dynamics play a crucial role in shaping individual identity.
One of Moreno’s key contributions to the field of psychology was the concept of group therapy. Moreno believed that group therapy was a more effective form of therapy than individual therapy because it allowed individuals to interact with others who were experiencing similar challenges.
Group therapy provided a safe and supportive environment for individuals to explore their emotions and to receive feedback from others. By interacting with others in the group, individuals were able to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and to develop new perspectives on their challenges.
Moreno also developed the concept of sociometry, which is the study of social interactions and group dynamics. Sociometry examines how individuals form relationships and social networks, and how these relationships influence individual behavior and identity.
Through sociometry, Moreno was able to gain insights into the social dynamics of groups, and to develop techniques for improving group communication and collaboration.
Application of Role Theory in Psychodrama
Psychodrama is a therapeutic approach that uses role-playing and other techniques to explore and resolve emotional conflicts and issues. Moreno’s role theory is an essential foundational element of psychodrama, as it provides a framework for understanding how individuals interact and perform various roles in their lives.
In psychodrama, clients may be asked to take on different roles in a scene, such as a parent, a child, or a friend, and act out a situation or problem they are facing. The therapist may also play a role in the scene, and other group members may take on supporting roles. Through this process, clients can gain a deeper understanding of their own role in the situation, as well as the roles and perspectives of others involved.
By exploring different roles in a safe and supportive environment, clients can gain insight into their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, and learn how to enact positive change. Psychodrama can be particularly useful for individuals who are
What Follows is a Summary of This document is both the work of the Michigan Psychodrama Center as well as a compilation of others work, including, J.L and Zerka Moreno, Buchanan and Garcia, Tian Dayton (Living Stage), Liz White, Louise Lipman and others.
A role as a complex set of attitudes believes expectations and skills that make up units of behavior.
According to Ann Hale a role is an observable unit of conserve behavior recognizable by the actions involved. Every role is influenced by biological psychological and social cultural factors, which affect the perception of the role and consequently the enactment of the role.
Role is the functioning form and individual assumes in the exact moment he reacts to a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved. Role is the functioning form and individual assumes in the exact moment he reacts to a specific situation in which other persons or objects are involved. The form is influenced by past experiences in the cultural patterns of the society in which the individual lives and may be satisfied by the specific type of his productivity.
Every role is a fusion of private and collective elements – it has two sides a private side in the collective side.
- The collective component is made up of the ways in the rule is enacted that are similar to the ways in which other place.
- The private component of the role is made up of the ways the person and ask the role differently from others who have the same role.
- Renal believe that we are more alike than we are different.
- Through tapping into the collective role components group members can find common ground in which to interact.
Making up each role is a cluster of behaviors which helps to find a culturally.
Rolls are learned.
They can be revised, retired, transformed, expanded, changed and rearranged. They can be contaminated by anxiety – distorted by unconscious motivation -disguised by evasive manipulation. They can be thrust on you. They can be taken in voluntarily. They can be stripped away – relinquish – lost.
Most rolls have a social contract. They require others to respond any particular way in order to exist, they need reciprocal rolls. They do not operate in a vacuum.
We have multiple roles in life.
- No one role defines us. The self emerges from the complex of roles we play.
- We develop roles in order to increase our repertoire of responses to life.
- The more roles we have, the more flexible we are.
- The more flexible we are the more creative we become.
- The more creative we are the easier it is to find our way in various situations.
- This leads to internal understanding of the self and external interaction.
You can find your creative spark and step out of old conserved ways of being.
Role Theory – Moreno believed that we have the capacity to become more conscious and creative in the way we play our rules. We can reinvent ourselves at any time, taking creative rest. We can define ourselves through the roles we play.
- Examine rolls
- Re-negotiate rolls
- Transform rolls – strengthen them
- Retire rolls – add rolls
Most people are in role transition. The hope is that we continue to grow and change, revising, restructuring and transitioning rolls. What needs to be retrained? Relinquished? What supports are needed to develop or relinquish the role? Is there a conscious awareness of the role shift? Or is the transition being resisted in a state of denial? In order to transition you need supportive adjustments, a social network that supports and encourages you, a skilled review of the problem, a willingness to develop new rules.
Role taking – imitation of superficial aspects. Following the obvious rules. Words and actions for the cultural norms
Role-playing – going inside in connecting with the internal aspects of the role. Explore the boundaries of the role. Begin to play with it as it becomes more familiar. Add some elements of personal style and novelty.
Role creating – expansion. Making the role your own. The original template for the role is modified. It involves empathetic role taking – going deep with inside the role to connect with its inside. It allows you to better understand yourself and others. Encouraging of initiative and empowerment.
The three categories of role
Somatic the physical roles, first roles to develop concerned with self.
- Touch, taste, smell, sounds, pictures, movement.
- Concerned with physical self – touch, taste, smells, sounds, pictures, movement.
- They hold the early memory/preverbal information.
As we grow, we lose that early connection we have with our bodies.
The goal is to reestablish those connections for a deeper level of healing. Moreno’s genius was in employing the whole person – including the body. Social generic rules given to us by society. Interactions with others/co-active process. Values, norms, rituals, expectations. We develop the skills to engage in interpersonal relationships. Our social repertoire evolves as our life circumstances change. The first social roles we have are those in our family. As our world expands our social roles expand.
Psycho dramatic/psychological rolls. Feeling roles.
- Expansion of self – images, fantasies, attitudes and emotions, imaginative context.
- Experience extends beyond constraints of ordinary physical reality, memories.
- They are the feelings we carry around inside us
- Reflections of our imagination and creativity
- Psychological states of being
- They represent the blocks we deal with
- They are as real as the interpersonal roles we utilize in our interactions with other people
- They are the tapes we play over and over again in our heads.
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