We all want high social status – ScienceDaily


Not everyone might care about having an impressive job title or a big, fancy house, but all human beings want a high level of social status, according to a recently published study.

For decades, researchers have debated both sides of the question: is it human nature to want a high position in one’s social circle, one’s profession, or society in general?

Professor Cameron Anderson has sought to settle the debate. In “Is the desire for status a fundamental human motive?” A review of the empirical literature ”(Psychological Bulletin, Vol 141 (3), May 2015), Anderson and Berkeley-Haas Ph.D. applicants John Angus D. Hildreth and Laura Howland conducted an in-depth review of hundreds of studies using a common set of criteria. They found that, yes, status is something everyone desires and covets – even if they don’t realize it.

“I usually study the sexy angle of power and self-confidence, but with this one it’s about everyone. Everyone cares about status whether they realize it or not.” , Anderson explains.

Anderson is Professor of Management and the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communications II at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He says status is considered universally important because it influences the way people think and behave.

“Establishing that the desire for status is a fundamental human motive is important, because differences in status can be demoralizing,” says Anderson. “Anytime you don’t feel valued by others, it hurts, and the lack of status hurts more people than you think.”

Some theorists have argued that wanting status is an innate desire for reputation or prestige. On the other end of the spectrum, researchers question the idea that status plays an important role in psychological well-being or self-esteem. Anderson and his team have researched a wide range of studies dating back more than 70 years. First, they defined and conceptualized status to “distinguish it from related constructs such as power and financial success.” They defined status as comprising three components: respect or admiration; voluntary deference by others; and social value. Social value (also known as prestige) is given to individuals whose advice is sought by others. Prestige can also be measured by how much others trust an individual.

Next, the researchers looked at the previous literature that defines what it takes for a pattern to be fundamental and innate to people. Four areas of criteria have determined whether the desire for status is fundamental.

1. Well-being and health – access to status must contribute to long-term psychological and physical health.

2. Activities – if the desire for status is fundamental, it must lead to goal-oriented behavior aimed at achieving and maintaining status, fostering a preference for selected social environments and causing people to react strongly when others do not. perceive as lacking in status.

3. Status for the sake of status – the desire for status is just that; motivation for status does not depend on other motives

4. Universality – the desire for status must operate and extend over many types of cultures, genders, ages and personalities.

The strongest test of the hypothesis is whether having a lower status has a negative impact on health. The studies reviewed showed that people who had lower status in their communities, peer groups, or workplaces suffered more from depression, chronic anxiety, and even cardiovascular disease. Individuals who fall lower in the status hierarchy, or what the authors call “the community scale,” feel less respected and valued and more ignored by others.

Anderson hopes the study results will influence future research, including, but not limited to, the management literature. “The desire for status can lead to all kinds of actions, from aggression and violence, to altruism and generosity, to conservation behavior that benefits the environment. The more we understand this basic engine, the more we can harness it to guide people’s decisions and actions towards more productive paths. “

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