Nav: Home

Cooperation with high status individuals may increase one's own status

August 06, 2019

Seeking social status is a central human motivation. Whether it's buying designer clothing, working the way up the job ladder, or making a conspicuous donation to charity, humans often seek and signal social status. Human cooperation and competition aren't mutually exclusive, they are two sides of the same coin. Christopher von Rueden from the University of Richmond and Daniel Redhead from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology led a study to assess the relationship between men's cooperation and status hierarchy, over a period of eight years, in a community of Tsimane Amerindians in Amazonian Bolivia.

Among the Tsimane, status is informal and evident in who has more verbal influence during community meetings. Influential men in this community also enjoy greater health and have more surviving children. At three points over the eight-year period, the researchers asked men to rank other men within their community on their status and to report other men with whom they regularly cooperate, in terms of food-sharing or joint hunting, fishing, or horticultural labour. The researchers show that high status men gain more cooperation partners over time, and that men gain status over time by cooperating with men of higher status than themselves. By cooperating with high status individuals, one may gain valuable information, resources, or coalitional support that increases one's own status. Alternatively, cooperation with high status individuals may increase one's status by more effectively broadcasting generosity or other desirable attributes to other community members.

"The finding that status depends on cooperation provides insight into why human societies, particularly small-scale societies like the Tsimane, are relatively egalitarian compared to other primates", says von Rueden, joint-lead author of the study. "Humans allocate status based on the benefits we can provide to others, often more than on the costs we can inflict. This is in part because humans evolved greater interdependence, relying on each other for learning skills, producing food, engaging in mutual defence, and raising offspring. Individuals who can offer unique services in these contexts gain status. However, the transfer of information and resources from higher to lower status individuals, as well as the potential reputational benefits to cooperating with higher status individuals, may constrain or even erode status differentials. Status inequality is constrained when by cooperating, status-dissimilar individuals influence each other's statuses. This likely changed with the spread of agriculture ten thousand years ago, as human communities grew in size and began producing more private wealth. Widespread cooperation among community members becomes difficult as community size increases, and individuals with more wealth can lose incentive to cooperate with the non-wealthy outside of more market-based or coercive transactions. These processes limit upward mobility and fuel stratification by wealth class."

Daniel Redhead, joint-lead author of the study, adds: "This is one of the first longitudinal studies of social status. Our findings provide some of the first evidence that the relationship between cooperation and social status among humans is bidirectional. That is, humans - compared to other animals - give status to those who provide benefits to groups, and are thus more attracted to these individuals as cooperative partners. At the same time, individuals increase their own status by cooperating with such high-status. These findings provide empirical evidence that stresses the broader importance of social interdependence - be it food sharing, food production, friendship or advice - in shaping human behaviour, and that this interdependence makes the ways that we obtain social status quite distinct from other animals."
-end-
Contact:

Dr. Daniel Redhead
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
+49 341 3550-338
daniel_redhead@eva.mpg.de

Dr. Christopher von Rueden
Jepson School of Leadership, University of Richmond
+1 206 351-0904
cvonrued@richmond.edu

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#566 Is Your Gut Leaking?
This week we're busting the human gut wide open with Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. Join host Anika Hazra for our discussion separating fact from fiction on the controversial topic of leaky gut syndrome. We cover everything from what causes a leaky gut to interpreting the results of a gut microbiome test! Related links: Center for Celiac Research and Treatment website and their YouTube channel
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.