PSYB10H3 Lecture Notes - Social Stratification, Social Currency, Impression Formation
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Social lec 18
Social hierarchy: an implicit or explicit rank order of individuals or groups with respect to a
valued social dimension.
Implicit or explicit refers to we may be really clear of who is of higher status, or we might not
know definitely who is at higher level. But we do not need to say that we are at higher level
than you its just known-implicit
Rank order, there needs to be at least 2 levels. 1 level of status or power above the other.
Valued social dimension criteria used to rank people in social hierarchy. People are ranked
according to what matters to the group who are doing the ranking.
Social power: asymmetric control over valued resources in social relations. Based in resources
that belong to an actor/social object. Whoever makes the decision an controls the resources is
the most powerful.
Power hierarchy: is one type of a social hierarchy and formed with respect to the amount of
resources each controls. Your income level reflects your amount of social power.
Social status: the extent to which an individual or group is respected or admired by others.
Exists entirely in the eyes of oother people and inferred to you by other people. You can’t make
your own social status. It is the other people who chose what your status is.
Status hierarchy: a rank ordering of individuals or groups according to the amount of respect
accorded by others. Changes as the amount of respect for the target changes. Power hierarchy
will change when the resources and control over it changes. But status hierarchy can change
when people loose respect.
Types of hierarchy
-Formal: explicitly set social roles, roles vary by rank order, higher rank order holds a
greater value. Ex: work. People can move between the roles but the hierarchy always remains
as they do so. They can move up to a different rank, but the hierarchy exists despite who fills in
Signs of formal hierarchy: job titles, reporting structures (this person reports to this person) and
organizational charts (shows CEOS, then presidents etc.)
The sources of value are control over resources and deference from subordinates. Respect to
those who are higher than you. More control over resources more power.
Typically an assumption of legitimacy to the hierarchy exists. We think that people who are at
the top earned their role, but its always not true. There is questionable degree to which people
really view the boss being legitimately in the place he is. Ex: the office.
-Imformal: rank ordering of individuals or groups that develop organically on at least one valued
social dimension. People just kinda create hierarchy out of it. No clearly delineated social roles.
Ex: you are the cool kid, it might not be your title, but it is known you’re the cool kid.
Sources of value in higher ranked positions: influence over group decisions, greater attention
from others. Those that get the most attention are at the higher ranking.
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Attention, power, status: we pay more attention to those who are ranked higher than us. We
pay less attention to lower ranked individuals. Attention is our social currency we can give to
others. It can apply to both higher power and status individuals.
Attention and power among humans
Study: 2 people, potential to receive a prize. They tell you the confederate is gonna have power
over giving you the prize or he won’t. showed bits of information about the confederate.
People who were told that the confederates were to award them, spent more time
concentrating on the information.
Attention an power among non human primates
Study: took a monkey all males, and shown images of 4 higher status males and 4 lower status
males. They would see a picture flash on the screen they were trained to look 1 way to see fruit
juice or the other way to look at the picture. I see the picture I wanna look at it more, they will
look at the picture, they didn’t want to look at the picture they would look the other for juice.
Wanted to see, when would you sacrifice juice and look at the picture. The monkey would give
up the juice when they were shown the images of the monkeys who were of higher status.
Would get juice when the pictures of others shown lower rank.
How does hierarchy develop?
We are discriminating and differentiating between people, you in this role you in this role.
The process through which individuals or group are sorted into rank ordered positions.
We assume that if somebody is my boss, we assume that its because they are more motivated
and skillful than I am. Sorting of individuals is a dynamic problem. Individuals can leave or enter
hierarchy. People can be interviewed for jobs at a higher ranking position. or you can just quit
your job. Its easier to leave formal hierarchies. People can move in between different ranks in
formal hierarchies. People progress higher through the ranks, they can move down but its rare.
Informal hierarchy develops spontaneously and rapidly. The reason for this is that impression
formation is really quick, so that’s why differentiation occurs so quickly. It occurs within the first
few minutes of an interaction. Because there are no clear set roles, there is a high agreement
between group members about the rank order of each individual. Not clearly defined but
everyone knows who’s on top and who’s not.
-role of non verbal cues: study: read a personal injury case. Where the person could receive the
max amount of money the case offered. The case was a very extreme case. Then participants
were brought to a deliberation room with 5 seats around the table. 4 side seats and 1 head
seat. They were asked to choose their seat. Confederate was assigned to choose head seat or
side seat, he walked in first. Confederate argues for a low settlement. Results: considered lower
settlement values when the confederate sat at the head seat and asked for low price. When he
was sitting in the side seat and offered low they didn’t go with him and settled for more $ for
When he was sitting in the head seat he was rated as being more confident, leader, and
consistent, even though his behavior remained the same.
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