Humans express social status in many ways. We show our submission to others by deferring to their wishes, copying their styles (e.g., dress, speech), praising them, laughing at their jokes, and so on. We show our dominance by expressing desires, styles, jokes, etc. and then expecting others to show submission.
It seems like the "dominance" thing and the "extension of personal space" thing might be distinct from each other.
Do you believe that any pair or group of people might consider themselves to be equal?
What of a team, where each defers to each other in that other's sphere of expertise?
Might people cease to seek to establish dominance where they do not find any payoff?
It's virtually *all* social signalling Robin, the whole human shebang. The reasoning ability of most of the population is virtually non-existant any way; so-called 'arguments' are really just being used as a social device most of the time - that is to say - it appears to me that people are not usually interested in the content of logical arguments - only in the social effects and as a way of establishing in/out groups, relative staus etc.
Depressing isn't it? Why do you think virtually no one is working on advanced transhumanist topics? Answer: Because there's no social reward. (of course, now that transhumanist ideas are getting more popular, you have some people professing a 'sudden' interest as funding and job openings become avaliable.) My horrific realization is that most people's time is taken up with social signalling. Human nature really is even more sordid than the worst fears of my youth I'm afraid.
In the words of 'Battle Star Galactica' :
'Somebody get me off this fracking planet!'
RobinI'd like to agree with you, but I feel compelled to disagree. Just kidding, great post!...
Academic administrators, Government bureaucrats and company executives often talk of needing to get "buy in" and "ownership". Why do rational people need to "buy in" or "own" things.....isn't the data enough?
I don't think I buy the signalling explanation -- when I see bumper stickers I certainly don't associate it with high status. To me the simplest explanation would seem to be that both bumper stickers and road rage are correlated with high levels of narcissism.
Unfortunately status and dominance signals are complex, multi-dimensional, and context dependent. That makes them harder to study, but no less real.
Isn't there a recent study showing that the results of most studies are wrong?
Another way to make a car loud is to, er, be ... loud. Like, play loud bass music. Is there any connection between this and signaling? i.e., would that credibly signal dominance to females. If so ... well, given that I hate such cars, that just ads insult to injury.
About the "why no stickers on Lexuses?", it could just be a case of the three-tiered dominance system:
-people that are so high they don't need to signal-people that are lower and signal what they do have-people at the bottom with nothing to signal
But then, if you don't need to signal, what's the point of a Lexus...
People of higher status are often unwilling to put stickers on their cars because it makes them seem trashy and taints the immaculate surface of their cars.
When you work for Dr. Evil and he tells a joke, you laugh, even if the joke is bad, because you don't want to make him angry. It's not so much "submission" as "sucking up", but they are similar.
Would you mind elaborating on what you mean by "submission" in the context of this sentence: "We show our submission to others by deferring to their wishes, copying their styles (e.g., dress, speech), praising them, laughing at their jokes, and so on." In what sense is praising our children or laughing at something that is funny a signal of submission? Similarly, while I can see how copying someone else's style instead of developing one's own is in some sense a subordination of one's own creativity to someone else's genius, there are instances in which mimicry (in terms of appropriating imagery that has cultural cache) is actually a way of increasing one's own power and stature (Mussolini's widespread use of Roman imagery springs to mind). In what sense is this "submission"?
The idea of a vehicle as an enlargement of personal space makes perfect sense. Some pleasant people who run a local CSA have two stickers on their car: one states COEXIST, spelled out using various symbols of major world religions, and the other states, God Bless Everyone in the World, No exceptions. It would be interesting to know something of their driving habits, which I do not. Based on the content of those two stickers, I would conjecture that they are not aggressive drivers, but in light of this post, that assumption is now open to question.
In my observation, it's often cars that seem to belong to people of _lower_ social status that are packed with bumper stickers (and have vanity plates), while Lexuses, Lincolns, Jaquars and the like seem to be usually sticker-free. If my observation is correct, then I'm not sure how status explains things. It seems to me it's those lower in status (the ones with bumper stickers) who are expressing distinctive opinions and expecting others to agree, while those of higher status don't feel the need to signal their status in this way ?
Robin,Thanks for sharing this. Here the good advice seems to leap from the quoted text: avoid driving in front of people with territorial markers on their car.