The Purpose of Social Hierarchies

—-“The purpose of social hierarchies is to organize social groups in order to allocate limited resources, such as mates and food (Sapolsky, 2005), facilitate social learning (Henrich & Mcelreath, 2003), and maximize individual motivation (Halevy et al, 2011; Magee & Galinsky, 2008). By definition, some individuals within the hierarchy – those at the top – will be afforded more resources and benefits than others, thus affecting morbidity and mortality. Despite that fact that there are always losers in this scenario, social hierarchies are highly pervasive across human cultures (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999) and they appear to emerge naturally in social groups (Anderson, John, Keltner, & Kring, 2001; Berger, Rosenholtz, & Zelditch, 1980; Chase, Tovey, Spangler-Martin, & Manfredonia, 2002; Gould, 2002; Magee & Galinsky, 2008). Further, this group organization is not strictly a product of human cognition, as almost every group-living species demonstrates a natural tendency to organize into a social hierarchy (Sapolsky, 2004; 2005) where the higher-ranking members possess more power, influence, and advantages than the lower-ranking members (Fragale, Overbeck, & Neale, 2011; Mazur, 1985; Zitek & Tiedens, 2012).”—

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