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Assessing the Impact of Status Information Conveyance on the Distribution of Negative Rewards: A Preliminary Test and Model

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Abstract

Purpose To determine the role of status information conveyance in a negative reward allocation setting. Methodology Using previously published experimental data, we test the relative effects of status information conveyed by expressive and indicative status cues on the allocation of a negative reward. Further, we construct an alternative graph theoretic model of expectation advantage which is also tested to determine its model fit relative to the classic model of Reward Expectations Theory. Findings Results provide strong support for the conclusion that status information conveyed by expressive status cues influences reward allocations more than information conveyed by indicative cues. We also find evidence that our alternative graph theoretic model of expectation advantage improves model fit. Originality This research is the first to test the relative impact of expressive versus indicative status cues on the allocation of negative rewards and shows that status characteristics can have differential impacts on these allocations contingent on how characteristics are conveyed. Furthermore, the research suggests a graph theoretic model that allows for this differentiation based on information conveyance and provides empirical support for its structure in a negative reward allocation environment. Research limitations Future research is required to validate the results in positive reward situations. Social implications The results show that an individual’s expectations are altered by varying the manner in which status information is presented, thereby influencing the construction and maintenance of status hierarchies and the inequalities those structures generate. Thus, this research has implications for any group or evaluative task where status processes are relevant.

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