Nobel Laureate economist, John Harsanyi, said that “apart from economic payoffs, social status seems to be the most important incentive and motivating force of social behavior.” The more noticeable status disparities are, the more concerned with status people become.
In an experiment with both high and low college students, it was demonstrated that boosting people’s sense of self-worth diminished aggressive tendencies amongst low-status individuals. Some students in the experiment were asked to write about a time when they felt important and valuable. Other students did not receive this assignment, but instead completed a rote task about defining nouns. In a second portion of the experiment, all participants answered questions about how willing they would be to respond aggressively to threats. Consistent with the general population studies, college students from low backgrounds expressed more willingness to respond aggressively to insults, but this tendency diminished markedly for those who first wrote about themselves as important and valuable.
Although this pattern of low-status compensation is important on its own, it is also unfortunate given a separate body of research on how people actually attain higher status. This research, recently summarized in an article by psychologists, Cameron Anderson and Gavin J Kilduff, shows that those who are effective in attaining status do so through behaving generously and helpfully to bolster their value to their group. In other words, low-status individuals’ aggressive and violent behavior is precisely the opposite of what they should be doing to ascend the societal totem pole.
Anderson and Kilduff demonstrated in one study that people in a group math problem-solving task who merely signaled their competence through being more vocal attained higher status and were able to do so regardless of their actual competence on the task. Research by psychologists Charlie L. Hardy and Mark Van Vugt, and sociologist Robb Willer have shown that generosity is the key to status. People afford greater status to individuals who donate more of their own money to a communal fund and those who sacrifice their individual interests for the public good. Demonstrating your value to a group—whether through competence or selflessness—appears to improve status. Anderson and Aiwa Shirako suggest that the amplifier for this effect is the degree to which one has social connections with others. Their studies involved MBA students engaging in a variety of negotiations tasks. They showed that individuals who behaved cooperatively attained a more positive reputation, but only if they were socially embedded in the group. Those who behaved cooperatively, but lacked connections went unnoticed. Social connectedness had similar effects for uncooperative MBA students. Those who were selfish and well-connected saw their reputation diminish.
The sum of these findings can begin to explain the troubled circumstances of those lowest in status. Ongoing efforts to maintain a positive view of oneself despite economic and social hardships can engage psychological defense mechanisms that are ultimately self-defeating. Instead of ingratiating themselves to those around them – this is the successful strategy for status attainment - low-status individuals may be more prone to bullying and hostile behavior, especially when provoked. Research identifying factors that lead to successful status-seeking provides some optimism, though. Individuals capable of signaling their worth to others rather than being preoccupied with signaling their worth to themselves may be able to break the self-defeating cycle of low-status behavior.
Is it not then the duty of our educational system to instill a foundation of self worth in our society? The old saying of our parents to go to school, learn well to get a good job has failed us and kept us in servitude. How can a people whose culture and history is founded in slavery truly attain the relevant knowledge of self to give them the sense of self worth needed for breaking this self defeating cycle of low-status behaviour. If our statuses in our communities are based on economic payoffs, we continue to foster an environment for a violent society void of morals.
The African Heritage Foundation is of the firm opinion that embarking on an educational curriculum that is based on precolonial Africa and our contribution to world civilization will translate into a less violent society where self worth is not valued by the dollar. It is our duty therefore in the interest of our future generations to demand the reforming of our educational system to suit our needs. We can ill afford to continue supporting systems that keep us psychologically enslaved. Power will only concede to power. Let us rally and become that power for the sake of our future generations.
Join us in the African Heritage Foundation as we build the power base needed for social reformation in Barbados. Let us never forget, the people have the power if organized effectively and if motivated properly. The African Heritage Foundation works with the equation Mass + 50 cents a day = Power. We have a plan to save our children. Click the link, http://www.afrikanheritage.com/the-unia-gives-birth-to-the…/ , inform yourself about the African Heritage Foundation and join us. Think about it for a minute, can you afford to, or rather can you afford not to join us.
The African Heritage Foundation welcomes international membership and much appreciates any donations made through this website in aid of our development.