Two Kinds Of Status

The conceited, arrogant feeling of pride has been called the deadliest of the seven deadly sins. Yet pride can also be noble. We all know the contented sense of achievement and self-worth that comes with having done well at something, whether it be achieving a promotion, building something, winning a race or figuring out a cryptic crossword clue. That’s why Jessica Tracy, … one of the few psychologists focused on pride, makes the distinction between what she calls “hubristic pride” and “authentic pride”.

Pride may manifest itself in two different ways, but we cannot tell these apart by their outward appearance, she says.  Both types cause people to tilt their heads back, extend their arms from their body and try to look as large as possible. …

When people see pride expressed they associate it with high status. So pride motivates us to do well so that we gain respect. …  Status can take two forms. … The first is based on dominance and commonly seen in non-human primates, whereby bigger and stronger individuals are revered because they could overwhelm or kill others. The human equivalents include the playground bully and officious boss.  The second kind of status is prestige. In this case, respect and power is gained through knowledge or skill.

More here. I was skeptical at first, but now am convinced: humans see two kinds of status, and approve of prestige-status much more than domination-status.  I’ll have much more to say about this in the coming days, but it is far from clear to me that prestige-status is as much better than domination-status as people seem to think.  Efforts to achieve prestige-status also have serious negative side-effects.

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