What Is Status in Social Psychology?


Martha Robinson

What Is Status in Social Psychology?

In social psychology, status refers to the relative position or rank that an individual holds in a particular group or society. It is a concept that plays a fundamental role in understanding social dynamics and interactions. Status can be categorized into two main types: achieved status and ascribed status.

Achieved Status

Achieved status is acquired by an individual through their efforts, abilities, and accomplishments. It is based on personal achievements and can change over time. Examples of achieved status include educational qualifications, job positions, wealth, and skills.

Achieved status often comes with certain privileges, responsibilities, and expectations. People with high achieved status are typically admired and respected within their social groups or communities. They may have more influence and power to make decisions.

Ascribed Status

Ascribed status is given to individuals based on characteristics that are beyond their control, such as gender, race, age, or family background. It is typically assigned at birth or early in life and remains relatively stable throughout one’s lifetime.

Unlike achieved status, ascribed status does not depend on personal accomplishments but rather on societal norms and expectations. For example, being born into a wealthy family automatically grants an individual a high ascribed status in terms of socioeconomic class.

Status Hierarchies

Status hierarchies refer to the ranking of individuals within a group or society based on their respective statuses. These hierarchies determine the distribution of power, resources, and opportunities among group members.

In many societies, there exists a clear hierarchy where individuals with higher achieved or ascribed statuses hold more authority and enjoy greater privileges compared to those with lower statuses. This hierarchy can influence social interactions, decision-making processes, and even access to basic necessities.

Effects of Status

Status has significant effects on individuals’ self-esteem, behavior, and social relationships. Those with high status often experience a boost in self-confidence and may exhibit more dominant behaviors. They may also be more likely to gain respect and cooperation from others.

On the other hand, individuals with lower status may experience feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, or even discrimination. They may face barriers in accessing resources or opportunities available to those with higher status.

Challenging Status Hierarchies

Social psychologists have been exploring ways to challenge and redefine traditional status hierarchies that perpetuate inequality and social injustice. By promoting equal opportunities and reducing the impact of ascribed statuses, societies can work towards creating a more inclusive and fair social environment.

  • Encouraging education and skill development can help individuals improve their achieved statuses.
  • Promoting diversity and inclusivity can challenge biases associated with ascribed statuses like race or gender.
  • Creating policies that ensure equal access to resources can help reduce the impact of status on individuals’ well-being.

In conclusion, status is a complex concept within social psychology that influences how individuals are perceived within their social groups or societies. Understanding the different types of status and their effects is crucial for studying human behavior, relationships, and societal structures.