Nobel Laureate economist, John Harsanyi, said that "apart from economic payoffs, social status seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behavior."

The more noticeable status disparities are, the more concerned with status people become.

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The Psychology of Social Status

scientificamerican.com

Michael Gazzaniga

When you get up in the morning, you do not think about triangles and squares and these similes that psychologists have been using for the past 100 years. You think about status. You think about where you are in relation to your peers.

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How to attain status

People who are effective in attaining status do so through behaving generously and helpfully towards their group.

People afford greater status to individuals who donate their own money and those who sacrifice their individual interests for the public good. Demonstrating your value to a group — whether through competence or selflessness — appears to improve status.

This is amplified by the degree to which you have social connections with others. The more connected you are, the more positive reputation you gain when you demonstrate your value.

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Low-status behavior

Low-status people are much more sensitive to being socially rejected and are more inclined to monitor their environment for threats.

Psychologist P.J. Henry says individuals from low-status groups:

  • Tend to engage in more vigilant psychological self-protection than those from high-status groups.
  • Are quicker to respond violently to personal threats and insults.
  • May be more prone to bullying and hostile behavior, especially when provoked.

This pattern was confirmed in 92 countries around the world. Data shows that greater status disparities predicted greater levels of violence.

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