Holding your place: Reactions to the prospect of status gains and losses

N. Pettit, K. YONG, S. Spataro

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology

March 2010, vol. 46, n°2, pp.396-401

Departments: Management & Human Resources

Keywords: Status gain, Status loss, Status contests, Status threat, Intragroup processes, Loss aversion

This paper examines individuals’ reactions to the prospect of gaining or losing status in groups. The results of three experiments provide evidence that individuals attach greater value to status when recalling the risk of status loss than when recalling the potential for status gain (Experiment 1), are willing to pay more to avoid a status loss than to achieve a status gain (Experiment 1), and put forth greater effort when striving to prevent status loss than when striving to gain status (Experiment 2). Finally, individuals who risk losing status allocate more resources toward personal status concerns (and away from group interests and potential monetary gain) than do individuals who have a chance of gaining status (Experiment 3). We discuss the implications of this research both in terms of individuals’ psychological experience of their status, as well as status attainment and maintenance concerns in groups