The Influence of Social Hierarchy on Primate Health

Departments of Biological Sciences, Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University, MC 5020, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 05/2005; 308(5722):648-52. DOI: 10.1126/science.1106477
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Dominance hierarchies occur in numerous social species, and rank within them can greatly influence the quality of life of an animal. In this review, I consider how rank can also influence physiology and health. I first consider whether it is high- or low-ranking animals that are most stressed in a dominance hierarchy; this turns out to vary as a function of the social organization in different species and populations. I then review how the stressful characteristics of social rank have adverse adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, immunological, and neurobiological consequences. Finally, I consider how these findings apply to the human realm of health, disease, and socioeconomic status.

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    • "Another way that power may reduce loneliness is through buffering against social stressors. Physiological research on primates and humans has shown that power is related to increased testosterone, a hormone that buffers threat (Carney, Cuddy, & Yap, 2010; Sapolsky, 2005) and lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress (Abbott et al., 2003; Carney et al., 2010; Coe, Mendoza, & Levine, 1979; Sapolsky, 1982; Sapolsky, Alberts, & Altmann, 1997; Sherman et al., 2012). Multiple studies have found that the powerful experience less distress, cortisol reactivity, and physiological arousal in the face of socially stressful situations (Carney et al., 2015; Kuehn, Chen, & Gordon, 2015; Schmid & Schmid Mast, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Eight studies found a robust negative relationship between the experience of power and the experience of loneliness. Dispositional power and loneliness were negatively correlated (Study 1). Experimental inductions established causality: we manipulated high versus low power through autobiographical essays, assignment to positions, or control over resources, and found that each manipulation showed that high versus low power decreased loneliness (Studies 2a–2c). We also demonstrated both that low power can increase loneliness and that high power can decrease loneliness by comparing these conditions to a baseline condition (Studies 3–4, 6). Furthermore, we establish a key mechanism that explains this effect, demonstrating that the need to belong mediates the effect of power on loneliness (Studies 5–6). These findings help explain some effects of power on social cognition, offer insights into organizational well-being and motivation, and speak to the fundamental question of whether it is “lonely at the top” or lonelier at the bottom.
    Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 09/2015; 130. DOI:10.1016/j.obhdp.2015.06.002 · 3.13 Impact Factor
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    • "Formation of social hierarchies is a universal process among humans that serves basic psychological needs such as self-concept and perceived ability (Sapolsky, 2005; Suls, Martin, & Wheeler, 2002) and creates a functional way for social groups to accomplish collective goals (Ridgeway, 1991). The generation of hierarchies involves implicit or explicit ranking of individuals based on status criteria, and these characteristics can either be diffuse or be specific to the social group. "
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    ABSTRACT: Despite a well-established association between relative social position and health, stratification at smaller levels of social organization has received scant attention. Neighborhood is a localized context that has increasing relevance for adults as they age, thus one's relative position within this type of mesolevel group may have an effect on mental health, independent of absolute level of social and economic resources. We examine the relationship between an older adult's relative rank within their neighborhoods on two criteria and depressive symptoms. Using data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, neighborhood relative social position was ascertained for two social domains: income and social reputation (number of neighbors one knows well enough to visit). Using multilevel models, we estimated the effect of relative position within the neighborhood on depressive symptoms, net of absolute level for each domain and average neighborhood level. Higher neighborhood relative rankings on both income and visiting neighbors were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Although both were modest in effect, the gradient in depressive symptoms was three times steeper for the relative rank of visiting neighbors than for income. Men had steeper gradients than women in both domains, but no race differences were observed. These findings suggest that an older adult's relative position in a local social hierarchy is associated with his/her mental health, net of absolute position. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
    The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 09/2015; DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbv047 · 3.21 Impact Factor
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    • "These events are certainly unpleasant but they do not threaten our lives, at least not directly. Importantly, the physiological stress response is the same regardless of whether a stressor is actually life threatening, as in Selye's animal models, or if we are faced with a psychological stressor, such as the stressor of public speaking (Sapolsky, 2005). For the purposes of this review, we focus on the perception and neurobiology of stress in humans. "
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with aphasia face significant challenges in their lives. These challenges stem from the difficulties caused by impaired language function. Impairment in the ability to successfully communicate could be a significant source of stress to individuals with aphasia. The purpose of the current paper is to present a review of the literature on the neuropsychobiology of stress and aphasia, give a contemporary conceptualization of stress (both neurobiological and psychological), offer a framework and directions for future investigations in stress and aphasia, and finally suggest clinical implications for this line of inquiry.
    Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 09/2015; 37(7):688-700. DOI:10.1080/13803395.2015.1042839 · 2.08 Impact Factor
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