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The psychology of Social Status.

MELTINGASPHALT

Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole

Social Status: Down the Rabbit Hole

meltingasphalt.com

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Understanding Social Behaviour

In seeking to understand particular forms of human behaviour, especially social behaviour, it often pays to look for analogues elsewhere in the animal kingdom.

Humans are capable of a seemingly infinite variety of individual behaviours, but our patterns of behaviour are constrained by the l...

Dominance

The clearest non-human analogue to social status is the dominance hierarchy found in many other social species including fish and insects.

Sometimes these hierarchies are linear: alpha dominates beta, beta dominates gamma, and so on, as in the "pecking order" among chickens.

Other tim...

Dominance Vs. Prestige

  • Dominance works by inspiring fear and other "avoidance" instincts so that low-status people try to steer clear of dominant individuals.
  • Prestige, on the other hand, inspires admiration and other “approach” instincts. People actively seek out prestigious individuals and enjoy spending...

To understand dominance, we need to focus on high-status behaviours. To understand prestige, however, we must understand the low-status behaviour.

There are two main instincts/behaviours that make up the prestige system:

On the high-status side, we have prestige-seeking: striving...

Entitlement Vs Gratitude

 Dominant individuals expect deference from others and treat it as their natural right. Prestigious individuals, on the other hand, often make an elaborate show of humility when accepting the deference of others.

Performers bow as they're being applauded. Oscar-winners pr...

Admiration

  • Low-status admirers are attracted to their prestigious superiors and hope to spend more time around them, and their admiration, therefore, acts as a bribe.
  • Admirers, in other words, are sycophants. They pay respect to a prestigious individual in order to cultivate access to him.
  • ...

The Behaviour Of The Arabian Babbler

The Arabian babbler is a small brown bird found in the arid brush of the Sinai Desert and the Arabian Peninsula.

It lives in small groups of 3-20 members, defending a small territory of trees and shrubs that provide much-needed safety from predators.

Babblers don’t just passiv...

Being In The Team

  • We voluntarily follow our leaders because good things tend to happen when we do; it pays to be on their team.
  • Admiration and prestige-seeking, then, are teaming instincts.
  • Our ancestors lived in a semi-permanent "home base" that needed to be guarded collectively.
  • This...

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