Human Status Criteria: Sex Differences and Similarities Across 14 Nations


Social status is a central and universal feature of our highly social species. Reproductively relevant resources, including food, territory, mating opportunities, powerful coalitional alliances, and groupprovided health care, flow to those high in status and trickle only slowly to those low in status. Despite its importance and centrality to human social group living, the scientific understanding of status contains a large gap in knowledge—the precise criteria by which individuals are accorded high or low status in the eyes of their group members. It is not known whether there exist universal status criteria, nor the degree to which status criteria vary across cultures. Also unknown is whether status criteria are sex differentiated, and the degree of cross-cultural variability and consistency of sex-differentiated status criteria. The current article investigates status criteria across 14 countries (N = 2,751). Results provide the first systematic documentation of potentially universal and sex-differentiated status criteria. Discussion outlines important next steps in understanding the psychology of status.

In The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.