Monday, August 31, 2009

Status Trading

During a recent (great as usual) discussion over beer, stagetwo made me aware of the concept of status trading. It hasn't gotten out of my head since.

The idea is the following: social status is of value and can thus be used as a currency.

The simplest and most extreme example can be seen in animals and humans begging for food: The begging individual takes on the most submissive body language possible and lowers its social status beyond omega by accepting humiliation and mistreatment in return for goods. In a sense, the very act of begging is synonymous with giving up any social status an individual might have left.

A less extreme example would be "giving in" during an argument in order to achieve some kind of favor from the other party.

Following the theory, high social status thus is worth actual money since it can be "spent" in similar ways.

The reason status gets spent is that once you lower your status towards another individual, it will leave a mark. You can not expect to always give in when arguing with a friend (or girl) and still retain a higher status position. Each an every time you lower yous status you lose ground for future interactions.

What is intriguing about this concept is that it combines the economist's view of humans being rational, selfish traders with the biological view of humans being pre-programed robots to produce successful offspring in completely new ways. It is also consistent with the observations and ideas of Keith Johnston on social interactions being status displays.

The consequences are that you could explain some seemingly "irrational" tendencies in economic interactions with an actually rational factor that had been hidden from the eyes of the economists: sex and status.

You could also use this concept to literally evaluate the "worth" of ones social status (akin to roissy's definition of alpha status by the potential number of sex partners) since giving up social status can be used to gain money. In practice this might not be easy to do, but certain game shows where people publicly humiliate themselves in order for financial reward are close to the experiments I have in mind.

3 comments:

  1. Seems almost like a desription of sex, where a woman is willing to "degrade" herself, and lower her status by risking being seen as a slut in exchange for love and affection. Actually, women seem to engage in this type of behavior all the type in order to gain the favor of dominant males. Of course, a woman who is willing to bow and scrape for an alpha won't even give the time of day to a beta.

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  2. OT but,does anybody know what happened to Alphadominance?Was a darn good site.One of the better ones.

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