Is the Desire for Status a Fundamental Human Motive? A Review of the Empirical Literature

TitleIs the Desire for Status a Fundamental Human Motive? A Review of the Empirical Literature
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsAnderson C, Hildreth JAngus D, Howland L
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Date PublishedMay
ISBN Number0033-2909
Accession NumberWOS:000353725000004

The current review evaluates the status hypothesis, which states that that the desire for status is a fundamental motive. Status is defined as the respect, admiration, and voluntary deference individuals are afforded by others. It is distinct from related constructs such as power, financial success, and social belongingness. A review of diverse literatures lent support to the status hypothesis: People's subjective well-being, self-esteem, and mental and physical health appear to depend on the level of status they are accorded by others. People engage in a wide range of goal-directed activities to manage their status, aided by myriad cognitive, behavioral, and affective processes; for example, they vigilantly monitor the status dynamics in their social environment, strive to appear socially valuable, prefer and select social environments that offer them higher status, and react strongly when their status is threatened. The desire for status also does not appear to be a mere derivative of the need to belong, as some theorists have speculated. Finally, the importance of status was observed across individuals who differed in culture, gender, age, and personality, supporting the universality of the status motive. Therefore, taken as a whole, the relevant evidence suggests that the desire for status is indeed fundamental.