From Issue: 1020 [Read full issue]
Dominance vs. Prestige
In our species, the attainment of social status, and the mating benefits that come along with it, can be accomplished through compassion and cooperation just as much (if not more so) as through aggression and intimidation. Scholars across ethnography, ethology, sociology, and sociolinguistics believe that at least two routes to social status — dominance and prestige — arose in evolutionary history at different times and for different purposes.
The dominance route is paved with intimidation, threats, and coercion, and is fueled by hubristic pride. Hubristic pride is associated with arrogance, conceit, anti-social behaviours, unstable relationships, low levels of conscientiousness and high levels of disagreeableness, neuroticism, narcissism, and poor mental health outcomes. Hubristic pride, along with its associated feelings of superiority and arrogance, facilitates dominance by motivating behaviours such as aggression, hostility, and manipulation.
In contrast, prestige is paved with the emotional rush of accomplishment, confidence, and success, and is fueled by authentic pride. Authentic pride is associated with pro-social and achievement-oriented behaviours, agreeableness, conscientiousness, satisfying interpersonal relationships, and positive mental health. Critically, authentic pride is associated with genuine self-esteem (considering yourself a person of value, not considering yourself superior to others). Authentic pride, along with its associated feelings of confidence and accomplishment, facilitates behaviours that are associated with attaining prestige. People who are confident, agreeable, hard-working, energetic, kind, empathic, nondogmatic, and high in genuine self-esteem inspire others and cause others to want to emulate them.
"The Myth of the Alpha Male" - Scott Barry Kaufman