Why Status Is the Most Important Measurement in the World

Updated on November 20, 2019
TessSchlesinger profile image

A reader of medical research and the life sciences since 1966, Tessa often reports on the latest research in those fields for others.

Having the looks opens the doors to success and high status.
Having the looks opens the doors to success and high status. | Source

The Status Quo

Bill Gates doesn’t mind paying more tax. In fact, he thinks that billionaires should pay more tax. However, the thought of paying $100 billion out of his $108 billion does not please him. Why would that be? There are a lot of people who would be very happy to have $8 billion – including those with only one or two billion to their name.

Of course, Bill Gates, alongside Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, Amancio Ortega, Carlos Slim Helu, Bernard Arnault & family, Warren Buffet, the Walton family, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell, Sheldon Adelson, Sergey Brin, the Koch brothers, and more, are all billionaires many times over. So why do they continue to work at amassing more and more money year after year?

People with higher status than us can make us feel small.
People with higher status than us can make us feel small. | Source

The Link Between Short Men and Wealth

Bill Gates is 5’8” (177cm). Jeff Bezos is 5’6” (171cm). Mark Zuckerberg is 5’6” (171cm). , Carlos Slim Helu is 5’6” (173cm). Sergey Brin is 5’6” (173cm).

See a pattern here?

All these men are short, and short men are not respected (much) by other men. Nor are they particularly attractive to women. The average women in the west is 5’4” (162cm), and she prefers to have men quite a bit taller than she is. She certainly can’t wear heels if a man is only two or three inches taller than she is. Also, because short men lack the respect of taller men, that lack of respect, to some degree, rubs off on her.

It has been argued over and over again that short men do whatever it takes to make a lot of money, because it is the only way they can draw women as well as gain respect from other men.

Status: Fame and Good Looks

Brad Pitt, Hrithik Roshan, Ariana Grande, Ian Somerhalder, Bella Hadid, Noah Mills, Jessica Lucas, Blake Lively, George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Keira Knightly, Kate Beckinsale, and Godfrey Gao all open doors wherever they are.

There was a study many years ago that indicated that women preferred good-looking men to wealthy men. And certainly, when it comes to wealthy men, they choose beautiful women – not brainy women.

Quote from Alain de Botton: London School of Life

“I remember a few months ago meeting an English psychologist, and I remember him telling me, in his view, only about 10% of the population in Britain is emotionally healthy. By this, he meant people who had no need for status objects or for pursuing status careers, but who were happy to focus on friendships and doing a job because they loved it – not for its status.”

Vice, Corruption, and Status.

The question seldom asked is “Why do some people attempt to make money through criminal means?” The answer is that they desire a higher status than they have, and they don't have a legal means of maing the money they need to obtain that status. So they use illegal means.

Even the Mafia dons demand 'respect.'

When certain individuals desperately want the respect of others and/or a partner of beauty and status, they will do whatever it takes to get it.

People who are insecure within seek status objects...
People who are insecure within seek status objects... | Source

Success and Status

Whether it’s winning at sports, owning a business, winning awards, becoming famous for one thing or another, the drive to achieve these things is the feeling of admiration that is derived as a consequence of the respect of others.

Many people crave status. They also fear the loss of status. Billionaires fear becoming mere millionaires. The upper classes fear becoming the middle class, and the middle class fears becoming the lower class. Managers in business fear being demoted as much as they desire being promoted. And many single women seek marriage, because in certain sections of society, married women have a higher status than spinsters.

Psychology and Status: Pecking Order Theory

Adam Waytz, in an article in Scientific American wrote “The more noticeable status disparities are, the more concerned with status people become.” This is true. It is why short men so desperately seek wealth, and why those who cannot attain wealth seek to criminal means and corruption.

The unethical actions of conservatives in both the UK and the US stem from the knowledge that more and more people are becoming liberal. So they have lied, gerrymandered, and done whatever it has taken to win re-election. The loss of status for these ‘alpha men’ is not something to be borne lightly.

To quote Steven Levitsky and Ziblatt from an article in the New York Times, “White Christians are losing more than an electoral majority; their once-dominant status in American society is eroding. Half a century ago, white Protestant men occupied nearly all our country’s high-status positions: They made up nearly all the elected officials, business leaders and media figures. Those days are over, but the loss of a group’s social status can feel deeply threatening.”

Professor PJ Henry (NYU Abu Dhab) wrote a research paper dealing with status. He noted that low status cultures tended to protect their standing more fiercely than those who came from high culture societies.

In yet another body of research, Cameron Anderson and Gavin J Kilduf established that people gave a higher status to those who were generous. This, no doubt, encourages philanthropy amongst the very rich. It gives them even higher status. Unfortunately, the type of philanthropy that the rich indulge in tends to be useless in alleviating the problems of poverty and violence in the world.

To sum it all up in a nutshell, neuroscientist, Michael Gazzaniga, says, “When you get up in the morning, you do not think about triangles and squares and these similes that psychologists have been using for the past 100 years. You think about status. You think about where you are in relation to your peers.”

High status goods are always desired by those who desire high status.
High status goods are always desired by those who desire high status. | Source

Status: Social Media and Victimisation

Much of social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or some other site, has to do with the constant vying for pecking order or status.

The terrible suicides of young people when they are faced with a loss of status reveals just how vital most people regard status.

It is status that brings admiration and respect. It is status that leads to being selected for the best jobs. It is status that ensures the number of friends we have and our safety in society. Those groups of people who have a low status are often victimized by those who have a higher status.

Greed, Corruption, Mega-Wealth, and Lack of Status

In the end, from mega-church pastors (Joel Osteen is a shorty, as was Billy Graham) through corrupt politicians and psychopathic CEOs, we appear to be asking the wrong questions and, subsequently, arriving at the wrong conclusions.

Bill Gates is not worried that he won’t be able to live on $8 billion. He is concerned about his loss of status. Deep inside the man lies a mouse, and I would argue that all these people who are desperately trying to hold on to power, money, and status, all have the same problem.

They battle an inner inadequacy that they dare not face, and so, in desperation, they seek those things that society admires and respects. For those are stuck with the attributes that society scorns, they will do whatever it takes to achieve those things. And once they are gained, because they have never dealt with the inadequacy that sent them on their particular journey of acquisition, they cannot bear to lose it.

That would destroy them.

Jordan Peterson has developed an enormous following because low status is such a concern

Status: Big Game Hunting and the Gun Debate

The real issue about big game hunting is one of status. The kind of people who hunt big game are accorded a particularly high ranking status for 'bagging' these animals - even when those animals are nearing extinction.

Even the gun debate - with tens of thousands of people dying as a result of gun violence - comes down to status. Certain men do not accord men without guns status. And, consequently, a large number of men do not feel macho if they don't have a gun. For a small percentage of men, the more inadequate they feel inside, the greater the number of guns required to elevate their status to other men.

Hunting is seen as a male sport, and it grants status to those who participate - regardless of the fact that many of these animals are nearing extinction.
Hunting is seen as a male sport, and it grants status to those who participate - regardless of the fact that many of these animals are nearing extinction. | Source

Where are You on the Pecking Order?

Most of us know, more or less, where we are on the pecking order. Some of us are comfortable where we are, while others are not. Those who are not, are often guilty of putting others down. It makes them feel better about their lowly status.

Do you buy brand names?

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Can We Live Without Status?

Humility comes into its own when people of high status lose it. That’s when it shows when they are humble or not. Donald Trump, for instance, cannot bear the thought of not being a billionaire. He is constantly protecting his status.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, builds homes for the poor, never elevates himself or mutters about his loses. He is a man of humility, unconcerned with status.

So, yes, we can all live without status.

The question is, “How do we heal the hurts of those whose inadequacy drives them to destroy the rest of us through their obsessive desire for status?”

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Tessa Schlesinger


Submit a Comment
  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    6 months ago

    You are absolutely correct! :) I'm just going to add a bit about the gun and big game hunting debate. The real issue isn't defence - it's the status of the man! :)

  • gmwilliams profile image

    Grace Marguerite Williams 

    6 months ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

    Read this enlightening article. Great article as usual, Tessa. Society has always been hierarchical. Such hierarchy begins with the family which has its particular agenda. Hierarchies are embedded into human societies & cultures from the most rudimentary to the more advanced.

    Humans depend upon status to validate themselves. Societal status is analogous to high school pecking orders. In high school, there is the A group of populars, the in-between groups where the majority are & lastly, there are the outsiders. Adult human societies have the same pecking orders. Sadly, adult societies are an extension of high school.

    Most people depend upon & respond to status. Only a few enlightened or unconventional people ignore status. However, people are rewarded or punished according to their conformity or disregard for status.

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    6 months ago

    Hi Kari, I was reading one of your articles the other day and wondered where you were as I hadn't seen you for a while. Yes, I think you are quite right. Unhappily, though, I think many parents socialize their kids to do things so that people approve of them.

  • k@ri profile image

    Kari Poulsen 

    6 months ago from Ohio

    I think their hurts can be healed with love and understanding, but I feel this needs to happen young. I agree about the "inner inadequacy" that many powerful people have. They seek to alleviate these feelings by owning material things. This is very sad to me.

  • TessSchlesinger profile imageAUTHOR

    Tessa Schlesinger 

    6 months ago

    Oh, dear. That was emulating. :)


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