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: 31.48). 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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    • "Hence, C and stress may be higher in high status compared to low status individuals in unstable hierarchies. Evidence supports this possibility in some species of primates (Sapolsky 2005). While some recent studies with humans have begun to look at manipulating hierarchy stability (e.g., Zilioli and Watson 2014; Zilioli et al. 2014), the effects of hierarchical stability versus instability on endocrine function and status in humans remains relatively understudied. "
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    ABSTRACT: Status hierarchies are universal across human and non–human animal social groups. Hormones and status interact with one another in a reciprocal manner. The present paper reviews the current literature on the interaction between testosterone (T), cortisol (C) and status in humans, with reference to non-human animal research. We discuss the complexity of the social neuroendocrinology of status with a focus on stable status, competitions for status, and the effects of severe social subjugation. Importantly, we conclude that the relationship between these hormones and status is not direct. We address moderators of the relationship between hormones and status, such as sex, individual differences, context, and T x C interactions, to get a more nuanced understanding of this relationship. Future directions include suggestions for examining this relationship longitudinally, including more females in status research, additional focus on social context and hormonal interactions, as well as non-competitive routes to status.
    06/2015; 1(2). DOI:10.1007/s40750-015-0025-5
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    • "This certainly applies to many modern-day humans. Social stress is also an important part of the lives of animals in the wild (Sapolsky, 2005). Hence, the stress response and GC levels are intimately tied to social behavior. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hormones have nuanced effects on learning and memory processes. The degree and direction of the effect (e.g., is memory impaired or enhanced?) depends on the dose, type and stage of memory, and type of material being learned, among other factors. This review will focus on two specific topics within the realm of effects of hormones on memory: (1) How glucocorticoids (the output hormones of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) affect long-term memory consolidation, retrieval, and working memory, with a focus on neural mechanisms and effects of emotion; and (2) How oxytocin affects memory, with emphasis on a speculative hypothesis that oxytocin might exert its myriad effects on human social cognition and behavior via impacts on more general cognitive processes. Oxytocin-glucocorticoid interactions will be briefly addressed. These effects of hormones on memory will also be considered from an evolutionary perspective.
    06/2015; 1(2). DOI:10.1007/s40750-014-0010-4
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    • "Central to the notion of hierarchical organization—and crucial for the principle of economy of action—are generalized imper - atives to predict and control one ' s environment that should be visible in all regulation mechanisms described here . Challenges to prediction and control trigger a host of neural and physiological responses ( Sapolsky , 2005 ; Clark , 2013 ) . Physiological responses to such challenges take one of two forms : reactive homeostatic responses arise to feedback signaling changes in physiological variables that have already occurred or were not predicted . "
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    ABSTRACT: Beyond breathing, the regulation of body temperature—thermoregulation—is one of the most pressing concerns for many animals. A dysregulated body temperature has dire consequences for survival and development. Despite the high frequency of social thermoregulation occurring across many species, little is known about the role of social thermoregulation in human (social) psychological functioning. We outline a theory of social thermoregulation and reconsider earlier research on people's expectations of their social world (i.e., attachment) and their prediction of the social world. We provide support and outline a research agenda that includes consequences for individual variation in self-regulatory strategies and capabilities. In our paper, we discuss physiological, neural, and social processes surrounding thermoregulation. Emphasizing social thermoregulation in particular, we appeal to the economy of action principle and the hierarchical organization of human thermoregulatory systems. We close with future directions of a crucial aspect of human functioning: the social regulation of body temperature.
    Frontiers in Psychology 05/2015; 6. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00464 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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