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Title: Social status in humans : differentiating the cues to dominance and prestige in men and women
Author: Mileva, Viktoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 6914
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2016
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Human social status has long been of interest to evolutionary and social psychologists. The question of who gets to control resources and be a leader has garnered a lot of attention from these and other fields, and this thesis examines evidence for there being two different mechanisms of achieving high status, and their correlates. The mechanisms are 1) Dominance: being aggressive, manipulative and forcing others to follow you, and 2) Prestige: possessing qualities which make others freely follow you. Chapter 1 is an introductory chapter in which I explain selection pressures, group formation, and the need for social hierarchies; I then describe the two proposed methods of attaining social status and how facial characteristics can give clues as to an individual’s social status. In Chapter 2, my first experimental chapter, I examined how faces created to appear either high in dominance or high in prestige were judged with respect to those traits as well as personality characteristics. Taking this further, in Chapter 3, I looked at how natural variation in real faces would reflect differences in other- and self-perceived ratings of dominance and prestige. Chapter 4 served to examine whether, given a set of words related to social status, I would find differences in what words were placed into dominant or prestige categories. Findings within these chapters are consistent with dominance and prestige being separable methods of attaining high status, from differences in facial appearance (Chapter 2 and 3), to personality characteristics (Chapter 2), to word usage (Chapter 4). Once I had established that these were two distinct routes to achieving high status, I chose to focus on dominance in Chapter 5 and explored the conceptual relationships between dominance and facial expressions. I found that manipulating perceptions of dominance affected how intense expressions of anger, sadness, and fear were perceived (Chapter 5). As there has been a paucity of research in the area of women’s social status, in Chapter 6, I went on to explore what effects cosmetics use in women would have on their perceived social status. I found differences in how men and women perceived women wearing cosmetics, which again points to a distinction between dominance and prestige. My thesis then presents a broad view of the two different mechanisms for attaining high status. Using new methods not otherwise used in exploring dominance and prestige I was able to explore correlates and indicators, as well as perceptions of both strategies. These findings will allow us to determine who might be capable of attaining social status, which of the two methods they might use, as well as what implicit associations we hold about each. They will also open doors for future research into the two strategies, and even help interpret previous research, as many previous studies simply relate to high status and do not distinguish between dominance and prestige.
Supervisor: Little, Anthony C. ; Roberts, S. Craig Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social Status ; Dominance ; Prestige ; Faces ; Face Perception ; Cosmetics ; Emotional Expressions ; Sex differences ; Dominance (Psychology) ; Facial expression