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Chapter 12

CHAPTER 12 NOTES - Evolutionary Psych

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York University
PSYC 3420
Irwin Silverman

CHAPTER 12: STATUS, PRESTIGE, AND SOCIAL DOMINANCE • status and dominance hierarchies form quickly • in one study individuals who did not know each other were introduced and within one minute a clearly hierarchy emerged THE EMERGENCE OF DOMINANCE HIERARCHIES • “pecking order” comes from the behaviour of hens • when they first come together they fight frequently • over time the fighting subsides because each hen learns that she is dominant to some hens • the hierarchy is a property of the group, not of the individual • the strategies of each individual hen have a function, and in the aggregate, they produce a hierarchy • this means that we have to consider the functions of being submissive, as well as the functions of being dominant • selection will favour the evolution of assessment abilities- psychological mechanism that include assessment of one's own fighting abilities relative to those of others • in humans these assessment mechanisms seem to be complex • following assessment, strategies of dominance and submissiveness can both have function- one function is to avoid costly confrontations • selection would also favour seeing through bluffs, since animals that submitted prematurely would lose access to precious resources • a dominance hierarchy refers to the fact that some individuals within a group reliably gain greater access than others to key resources • dominance peripheries are transitive meaning that if A is dominant over B and B is dominant over C, then A will be dominant over C DOMINANCE AND STATUS IN NONHUMAN ANIMALS • the behaviours of the winners and losers are different so researchers suspected that changes must occur in their nervous systems • in dominant crayfish, the presence of serotonin makes the neuron more likely to fire • in the losers, serotonin inhibits the neuron from firing • animals are reluctant to go from being dominant to subordinate but not from being subordinate and going to dominant • chimpanzees also battle for dominance • the dominant males make themselves look large and heavy EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 1 • most reliable indicator of dominance among chimps is the number of submissive greetings an animal receives from others • the females usually present their rear ends to the dominant chimp for inspection • the occasional failure to display the submissive greeting by either a male or a female is a direct challenge to the dominant chimp's status and may provoke retaliation • dominance among male chimps comes with a key perk: increased sexual access to females • increased sexual access by dominant male chimps seem to be especially pronounced when the females enter oestrus • the loser's sexual access occurs when the females are less likely to conceive • hierarchies are not static- individuals continually compete for elevated positions • the physical size of a primate is not the primary determinant of rank- rising in rank depends on social skills, notably the ability to enlist allies on whom one can rely for support in contests with other individuals EVOLUTIONARY THEORIES OF DOMINANCE, PRESTIGE, AND STATUS • a good theory should be able to predict which tactics people use to negotiate hierarchies • a good theory should have to account for why status striving appears to be more prevalent among males than females • an ultimate theory of dominance should explain why people often strive for equality among members of the group • dominance hierarchies: determines the allocation of resources • production hierarchies: involve coordination and division of labour for the purpose of achieving a group goal • a good theory should identify the different paths to elevated rank or status • dominance involves force or the threat of force • prestige is freely conferred deference and individuals may attain high prestige because they have special skills, knowledge, or connections • prestige hierarchies tend to be domain-specific (one person has superior hunting skills whereas another has superior medicinal skills) • prestigious individuals may be sought for the information they can provide and for the reproductively relevant benefits they can bestow • therefore lower-ranking individuals seek to approach and imitate prestigious individuals Prestige signaling, reputation, and leadership • costly signaling also plays a key role in the acquisition of prestige • in hunter-gatherer societies, signaling comes in forms such as throwing lavish feasts and providing meat from difficult-to-capture prey EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 2 • in modern social groups, individuals acquire prestige by displaying high levels of competence on tasks that groups value, displaying generosity by giving more than taking and making personal scarifies hat signal commitment to the group • int he path to prestige, it is better to give than to receive • others have to be aware of the signals in order to accord prestige to an individuals • displays that benefit others in the group or that indicate deep knowledge that is beneficial to the group is one of the keys to the evolution of leadership • leaders usually emerge from consensus among group members • those who signal knowledge, and signal high levels of generosity by making costly sacrifices for the group An Evolutionary Theory of Sex Differences in Status Striving • male reproductive success is more variable than females • elevated dominance and status can give males greater sexual access along two paths • first, dominant men might be preferred as mates by women • a second path through which dominant men gain increased access to women is through intrasexual domination • dominant men might simply take the mates of subordinate men Status and Sexual Opportunity • status and rank afforded men great sexual access to women in each of the six first recorded human civilizations • genetic analysis have confirmed the effects of status, power, and position on reproduction outcomes • men scoring high on social dominance admit having more affairs • men with higher incomes and high in status tend to have more sex and more children • men who are high in status marry more attractive women and women who are younger and more fertile • empirical evidence supports the evolutionary rationale for predicting a sex difference in the strength of the motivation to achieve high status Are Men Higher in Status Striving? • Boys in all 6 cultures more likely than girls to engage in rough play, assaults and other aggressive acts • a sex difference in dominance motivation appears to emerge at an early age • SDO: Social dominance orientation • some of the items on this sale are “to get ahead in life” and “it is necessary in life to sometimes step on others” • SDO is higher for men because such an orientation led ancestral men to greater control of, and access to, women • women would have been selected to choose men high in SDO EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 3 • men appear to score higher on attitudes endorsing getting ahead, including those that justify one person's higher status than another and one person's group dominance over another Men and Women Express their Dominance through Different Actions • women more than men tended to rate pro-social dominant acts are more socially desirable including “taking charge of things at the committee meetings” • men more than women tended to rate egoistic dominant acts as more socially desirable such as “managing or flattering to get one's own way” • men appear to regard more selfish dominant acts as more desirable than do women • dominant men appear to perform a relatively high frequency of egoistic dominant acts, in which others are influenced for the direct personal benefit for the dominant individual • dominant women tended to perform a higher frequency of pro-social dominant acts such as “i settled a dispute among members at a meeting” • dominant women express their dominance through actions the facilitate the well- being of the group • in the study, the high-dominant women were appointing their low-dominant partners to the leadership position • this finding suggests that women express their dominance in a different manner than the men in the mixed-sex conditions • men tend to express their dominance through acts where they elevate themselves to positions of power and success and women express their dominance for group orientated goals • men's personal diaries contain more references to same-sex competition • men engage in riskier resource-related behaviour when being observed by others who are similar in status but not when interacting with those who are higher or lower in status • this is because among competitors of roughly equal status, the outcomes are uncertain, and so selection should favour riskier decision making about resources • therefore status competitions among men tend to be most intense when they involve men of equal status, and that men shift to riskier strategies when observed by potential competitors of roughly equal status Dominance Theory • the struggle for survival in human and chimpanzee groups were characterized by conflicts between those who were dominant and those who were trying o outwit those who were dominant • selection will favour strategies that cause one to rise in dominance but also favour the evolution of subordinate strategies to gain access of the dominant individual to key resources • these strategies include deception, friendship, and manipulation to gain access to resources needed for survival and reproduction EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 4 • Cummings proposed that these cognitive capacities to reason about the minds of others have evolved in primates, including humans, to gain access to resources by those high in dominance Dominance theory has two key propositions: • humans have evolved domain-specific strategies for reasoning about social norms involving dominance hierarchies o these include permissions (who is allowed to mate with whom), prohibitions (who is forbidden to mate with whom), obligations (who must support whom in a social contest) • dominance theory proposes that these cognitive strategies will emerge to, and separate from, other types of reasoning strategies Evidence to support the Dominance Theory • the early emergence in a child's life of reasoning about rights and obligations, called deontic reasoning • reasoning about what a person is permitted, obligated, or forbidden to do e.g. Am I old enough to be able to drink alcohol? • This contrasts with indicative reasoning, which is reasoning about what is true or false e.g. Is there really a tiger hiding behind that tree? • A number of studies find that when humans reason about deontic rules, they adopt a strategy of seeking rule violators • e.g. They look for others with alcohol who may be underage • but when people evaluate indicative rules, they look for confirming instances of the rule • for example “all polar bears have white fur” they look for instances of white-furred polar bears rather than those who do not • these distinct forms of reasoning have been documented in children as young as three • dominance theory predicts that human reasoning will be strongly influenced by rank • a study showed participants pictures of men with information that reveal each man's social status (high or low), and character (history of cheating, or irrelevant information) • a week later participants returned to the lab and were asked to report which of the pictures they remembered • the cheaters were remembered more frequently than the non cheaters • memory for cheaters were especially enhanced when the cheaters for low in status, whereas the memory bias for cheaters was diminished if the cheaters were high in status EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 5 • the memory bias for cheaters was stronger for men than for women participants • these results support the proposal that humans have evolved selective attentions and memory storage mechanisms designed for progressing important social information-mechanisms that are especially sensitive to who has cheated and the status of those who have cheated • these results also support Cummin's dominance theory, which proposes that human social reasoning will be strongly affected by rank • when people are angered they experience an increase in blood pressure • when given a chance to aggress against the person who caused their anger, their blood pressure returns to normal only if the target of their aggression is lower in status • when the target is higher in status, blood pressure remains high • in a study half of the participants were told to adapt the perspective of the high- ranking individual and to check on the students under their care • the other half were told to adopt the perspective of a low ranking student and to check on possible violations by the dormitory resident assistant • 65% looked for potential rule violations when they were checking on people lower in status than themselves, whereas only 20 percent looked for potential rule violations when they were checking on people of equal status or higher status than themselves Social Attention-Holding Theory • another theory developed by evolutionary psychologist Gilbert emphasized the emotional components of dominance • Gilbert bases his theory in part on the concept of resource-holding potential (RHP) stemming from work conducted on nonhuman animals • RHP refers to an evolution that animals make about themselves relative to other animals regarding their relative strengths and weaknesses • losers of contests and those who determine before contests that they are inferior have low RHP • Winners of contests and those who determine what they are likely to win contests are superior in RHP After evaluations of RHP, three types of behaviour follow: • the animal might attack the other, especially if it perceives itself to be superior in RHP • the animal might flee if it perceives itself inferior in RHP • the animal might submit- letting go of critical resources to those higher in RHP EVOLUTION CHAPTER 12 page 6 • Social attention-holding potential (SAHP) refers to the quality and quantity of attention others pay to a particular personality humans compete with each other to be attended to • when people give someone high-quality attention, that individual rises in status • humans bestow attention on those who perform a function that is valued by the bestowers • the most theoreti
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