Monday, March 15, 2010

How People Gain Status

So, humor me.  This may be simplistic, but it has been majorly important in our reproductive history and is therefore worth going over.  Also, I'm a firm believer that we ought to think about whether or not the method we're using to gain status is so worthwhile.

Lekking is when a number of male animals display themselves to a female in order to gain approval for mating (lekking is Swedish for play, but it can be quite a serious game).

How do humans 'lek'?

Often by gaining status.  I was intrigued when Frans de Waals in his book "Good Natured" went over how chimpanzees unlike their other simian cousins aren't organized by who is strongest.  They're hierarchy is dependent upon respect.  As in, if you're a good leader, have character, know how to mediate disputes, fair to various factions then you can gain status and mating rights.  Fascinating and o-so human like.

it's also interesting to think about where the power lies in bestowing of status.  Does the power lie with the individual to influence the group's opinion?  Or, does the power lie with the group to attribute and give power to a certain individual?  Interesting that it's both...

So, a couple ways we sapiens gain status:
  • Power (power to hurt specifically.  All of these listed are technically types of power.)
    • Manipulation
    • Guilt
    • Associations
  • Respect
    •  Character
  • Utility
    • Humor/Entertainment

So, what method are you using?  Is that the most effective long term?  Is that method the one that is going to get you the kind of status you want?


  1. High School Athletics??

    Big Man on Campus in college??

  2. hahaha! Include: tattoos, sports cars, the right brand of clothing, listening to the right bands, going to the right college, etc.


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