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What it takes to attain status in face-to-face groups: the importance of distinguishing between dominance and prestige hierarchies

What it takes to attain status in face-to-face groups: the importance of distinguishing between dominance and prestige hierarchies
What it takes to attain status in face-to-face groups: the importance of distinguishing between dominance and prestige hierarchies
Hierarchy is a defining feature of groups (Berger et al., 1972; Fiske, 2010; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). In this thesis I examined what it takes to climb up this hierarchy in face-to-face groups. I did so from three angles: what people need to do in order to attain status, what kind of person people need to be in order to attain status, and what people may need to sacrifice in order to attain status. Moreover, I assessed the moderating effect on these relations of two fundamental processes underlying group hierarchies: dominance (i.e., assertively claiming status) and prestige (i.e., willingly being granted status). Before addressing the main questions of this thesis, I examined the impact of dominance and prestige processes on perceptions of group hierarchy types (Chapter 2). A vignette study found that assertively claiming status for oneself and willingly being granted status both emerged as viable ways of enhancing perceived status, above and beyond formal status. It also found that, at the group level, each type of process worked against the other: perceptions of each were undermined by mixing it with the other. This finding implies that groups can be classed along a hierarchy type continuum, ranging from highly dominance-based to highly prestige-based.

Having empirically established how dominance and prestige processes jointly shape the types of hierarchies that exist in groups, I addressed the main questions of this thesis in a series of experimental and naturalistic studies. In Chapter 3, I examined the interpersonal behaviours that promote status in different types of group hierarchies. I found that agentic behaviour promoted status both in dominance-based and in prestige-based hierarchies. In contrast, communal behaviour augmented status in prestige-based hierarchies, but diminished status in dominance-based hierarchies. Thus, I found that status attainment is associated with diametrically different interpersonal behaviours in different hierarchy types. In Chapter 4, I assessed how the self-appraisals of people who engage in different status-promoting behaviours differ. I found that self-esteem was associated with behaviour that was high in agency and high in communion, whereas narcissism was associated with behaviour that was high in agency and low in communion. Thus, self-esteem related to behaviours that promote status in prestige-based groups, whereas narcissism related to behaviours that promote status in dominance-based groups.

In Chapter 5, an experimental study found that the interpersonal warmth towards individuals increased with status in relatively prestige-based hierarchies and decreased with status in relatively dominance-based hierarchies. In other words, in prestige-based groups, being liked and being included were liable to go hand-in-hand, whereas in dominance-based groups, there was a trade-off between them: to attain status one might need to sacrifice inclusion. However, this finding needs to be interpreted with caution as I failed to replicate it in a subsequent naturalistic study.

Together, these findings presented in this thesis convincingly demonstrate that hierarchy type is a diversifying feature of groups. As such, they powerfully illustrate the importance of distinguishing between dominance-based and prestige-based groups.
de Waal-Andrews, Wendy G.
5a6c36fe-d3bd-4265-ad24-3875d6da3777
de Waal-Andrews, Wendy G.
5a6c36fe-d3bd-4265-ad24-3875d6da3777
Gregg, Aiden
1b03bb58-b3a5-4852-a177-29e4f633b063

(2012) What it takes to attain status in face-to-face groups: the importance of distinguishing between dominance and prestige hierarchies. University of Southampton, Psychology, Doctoral Thesis, 203pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Hierarchy is a defining feature of groups (Berger et al., 1972; Fiske, 2010; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999). In this thesis I examined what it takes to climb up this hierarchy in face-to-face groups. I did so from three angles: what people need to do in order to attain status, what kind of person people need to be in order to attain status, and what people may need to sacrifice in order to attain status. Moreover, I assessed the moderating effect on these relations of two fundamental processes underlying group hierarchies: dominance (i.e., assertively claiming status) and prestige (i.e., willingly being granted status). Before addressing the main questions of this thesis, I examined the impact of dominance and prestige processes on perceptions of group hierarchy types (Chapter 2). A vignette study found that assertively claiming status for oneself and willingly being granted status both emerged as viable ways of enhancing perceived status, above and beyond formal status. It also found that, at the group level, each type of process worked against the other: perceptions of each were undermined by mixing it with the other. This finding implies that groups can be classed along a hierarchy type continuum, ranging from highly dominance-based to highly prestige-based.

Having empirically established how dominance and prestige processes jointly shape the types of hierarchies that exist in groups, I addressed the main questions of this thesis in a series of experimental and naturalistic studies. In Chapter 3, I examined the interpersonal behaviours that promote status in different types of group hierarchies. I found that agentic behaviour promoted status both in dominance-based and in prestige-based hierarchies. In contrast, communal behaviour augmented status in prestige-based hierarchies, but diminished status in dominance-based hierarchies. Thus, I found that status attainment is associated with diametrically different interpersonal behaviours in different hierarchy types. In Chapter 4, I assessed how the self-appraisals of people who engage in different status-promoting behaviours differ. I found that self-esteem was associated with behaviour that was high in agency and high in communion, whereas narcissism was associated with behaviour that was high in agency and low in communion. Thus, self-esteem related to behaviours that promote status in prestige-based groups, whereas narcissism related to behaviours that promote status in dominance-based groups.

In Chapter 5, an experimental study found that the interpersonal warmth towards individuals increased with status in relatively prestige-based hierarchies and decreased with status in relatively dominance-based hierarchies. In other words, in prestige-based groups, being liked and being included were liable to go hand-in-hand, whereas in dominance-based groups, there was a trade-off between them: to attain status one might need to sacrifice inclusion. However, this finding needs to be interpreted with caution as I failed to replicate it in a subsequent naturalistic study.

Together, these findings presented in this thesis convincingly demonstrate that hierarchy type is a diversifying feature of groups. As such, they powerfully illustrate the importance of distinguishing between dominance-based and prestige-based groups.

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Published date: May 2012
Organisations: University of Southampton, Psychology

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Local EPrints ID: 347167
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/347167
PURE UUID: f499010a-e870-4364-bc72-3418bf360876

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Date deposited: 27 Feb 2013 14:17
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:59

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Contributors

Author: Wendy G. de Waal-Andrews
Thesis advisor: Aiden Gregg

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