Neuroimaging evidence supports the role of multiple limbic and cortical circuits in the treatment of social rank in humans (Beasley, Sabatinelli, & Obasi, 2012; Chiao et al., 2009). The most commonly studied biochemical substrate associated with SRBS is testosterone (e.g., Schultheiss and Wirth, 2008). Testosterone was also found to correlate with self-reported, observational, and cognitive measures of dominance in both males and females (e.g., Archer, 2006; Sellers, Mehl and Josephs, 2007). Recent results also highlight the importance of estradiol for women`s social rank and dominance (Stanton and Schultheiss, 2009). SRBS is designed to coordinate responses to changes in social power structures that emerge early in development (Thomsen, Frankenhuis, Ingold-Smith & Carey, 2011), to monitor nonverbal cues such as gaze, voice, gestures, and postures (e.g. Cheng & Tracy, 2013; Hodges-Simeon, Gaulin, & Puts, 2010; Strongman and Champness, 1968; Weisfeld & Beresford, 1982) and work automatically (e.g., Moors & De Houwer, 2005). In summary, SRBS appears to be a coherent system that organizes behavioral changes in the hierarchical organization of a group. Social hierarchy, a multi-level pyramid-type social or functional structure culminating in the centralization of power. The term can also be applied to animal societies, but the term dominance hierarchy is generally preferred. As a rule, institutions such as businesses, churches, armies and political movements, etc. are hierarchically structured.
In general, senior occupants in the higher position, called bosses, have more power than their subordinates at the base of the structure. So the asymmetric relationship could be that you have “power over” others. However, some analysts question whether energy is “really” working as the standard indicates. See also: Chain of Command. Learn more about social hierarchy and its importance in politics. The disruption of established social hierarchies within groups of animals serves as a social stressor that deregulates host homeostasis and alters susceptibility to infection. Social reorganization, a paradigm refined by Sheridan and colleagues in which the dominant male is switched between cages in a house mouse cage, increases latent HSV-1 reactivation and mortality after influenza A virus infection. Social reorganization also increases susceptibility to endotoxic shock and bacterial colonization of lymphoid tissue and liver after experimentally induced wounds in house mice. The effects of social reorganization on susceptibility to infection are mediated by immune cells, particularly dendritic cells, which become resistant to glucocorticoids because the glucocorticoid receptor does not undergo nuclear translocation after corticosterone exposure in these animals.
As a result, dendritic cells from mice exposed to social reorganization strongly regulate the expression of surface receptors indicating activation and produce increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, in response to toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands compared to control mouse cells. Glucocorticoid resistance leads to increased inflammation, which can lead to host-mediated immunopathology and, in severe cases, death. The goal of this chapter, which will now focus exclusively on humans, is to provide an overview of recent evidence on how differences in social status can affect brain structure and function. Although, given the centrality of social status as a construct that controls social interactions, relatively little research has been done on this topic. Recent research on brain imaging has begun to examine how our own social status shapes us and how the social status of others influences our reactions to it. In the following sections, we will first briefly review the available evidence for the influence of social status on brain structure and cognitive development. We will then focus on recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies on the influence of social status on how we interpret others. Finally, we will present fMRI studies that suggest that individual differences in social status influence how we react to others. Throughout the chapter, we also intend to highlight some of the behavioral data that complements these early brain imaging studies on the effects of social hierarchies on ourselves and how we interpret others.
Leone, L., Desimoni, M. and Chirumbolo, A. (2012). HEXACO, social worldviews and socio-political attitudes: a mediation analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(8), 995-1001. doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.07.016. Social hierarchies are broadly defined as systems of social organization in which some individuals enjoy higher social status than others (Sidanius and Pratto 1999) – particularly in which individuals are stratified according to their group membership (Axte et al. 2014; Jost et al., 2004; Sidanius and Pratto, 1999).
In socially stratified societies, high-status groups enjoy better access to material and social resources than lower-status groups, resulting in different opportunities and outcomes. For example, lower-status individuals experience more verbal harassment and physical assault (Katz-Wise & Hyde, 2012), face discrimination in employment decisions (Parker et al., 2016), and are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system (Wu, 2016). Hierarchy has been conceptualized in two ways. A conventional usage, as embodied in Max Weber`s analysis of modern bureaucracy, emphasizes legal-rational authority in a formal organization. This view indicates that the hierarchy consists of a central authority and a tightly integrated chain of command and control, and that this authority is gradually being transferred downwards. The relationship between units at different levels is one of superiority and subordination, and each unit is responsible for only one superior to the next level. Social hierarchies have been identified in a wide range of organisms, from simpler model systems such as insects to non-human and human primates. For example, reliance on status cues to organize important social behavior is identified in ants1 and other insects such as bees, which infer a higher rank in the social hierarchy based on physical size.2 Many fish species are also known to rely on social hierarchies.