Status Conferral in Intergroup Social Dilemmas: Behavioral Antecedents and Consequences of Prestige and Dominance

Status Conferral in Intergroup Social Dilemmas: Behavioral Antecedents and Consequences of Prestige and Dominance

By
Nir Halevy, Eileen Y. Chou, Taya R. Cohen, Robert W. Livingston,
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. February
2012, Vol. 102, Issue 2, Pages 351-366

Bridging the literatures on social dilemmas, intergroup conflict, and social hierarchy, the authors systematically varied the intergroup context in which social dilemmas were embedded to investigate how costly contributions to public goods influence status conferral. They predicted that contribution behavior would have opposite effects on 2 forms of status — prestige and dominance — depending on its consequences for the self, in-group and out-group members. When the only way to benefit in-group members was by harming out-group members (Study 1), contributions increased prestige and decreased dominance, compared with free-riding. Adding the option of benefitting in-group members without harming out-group members (Study 2) decreased the prestige and increased the dominance of those who chose to benefit in-group members via intergroup competition. Finally, sharing resources with both in-group and out-group members decreased perceptions of both prestige and dominance, compared with sharing them with in-group members only (Study 3). Prestige and dominance differentially mediated the effects of contribution behavior on leader election, exclusion from the group, and choices of a group representative for an intergroup competition. Taken together, these findings show that the well-established relationship between contribution and status is moderated by both the intergroup context and the conceptualization of status.