How Variance in a Person's Status 'Portfolio' Influences Psychological Well-Being: Evidence from the U.S. and China
Posted: 18 Jul 2017
Date Written: February 4, 2017
We suggest that a person’s status can be conceptualized as a portfolio — with status coming from multiple sources with different and potentially changing levels — and that variance across this portfolio has significant effects on self-esteem and well-being. We conceptualize two forms of status variance: dynamic status variance (DSV), defined as status variance from one source over time, and static status variance (SSV), defined as status variance across sources/contexts at a given time point. We then test a series of predictions on the effects of DSV and SSV with two online survey studies and two large-scale archival datasets in the U.S. and China (total n > 80,000). We find that both forms of status variance can be harmful for self-esteem and wellbeing. Importantly, we find consistent evidence of an interaction between status variance and average overall status, such that variance is particularly detrimental to the psychology of those holding high average status. Overall, our findings demonstrate a more elaborate relationship between status and the self than has previously been assumed. In exploring individuals’ status variance across time and contexts, this research substantially extends existing models of status that have focused on unitary markers of overall status or status within one group. Research into the effects of status is widespread, yet a complete understanding of these effects requires examination of individuals’ entire status portfolios.
Keywords: Status, Subjective Well-Being, Self, Self-Esteem, Social Hierarchy
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