Dominance and Prestige: Dual Strategies for Navigating Social Hierarchies

J. K. Maner*, C. R. Case

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

99 Scopus citations


The presence of hierarchy is a ubiquitous feature of human social groups. An evolutionary perspective provides novel insight into the nature of hierarchy, including its causes and consequences. When integrated with theory and data from social psychology, an evolutionary approach provides a conceptual framework for understanding the strategies that people use to navigate their way through social hierarchies. This article focuses on two strategies—dominance and prestige—that have played a key role in regulating human hierarchies throughout history. Dominance reflects a repertoire of behaviors, cognitions, and emotions aimed at attaining social rank through coercion, intimidation, and the selfish manipulation of group resources. Prestige instead reflects behaviors, cognitions, and emotions aimed at attaining social rank through the display of valued knowledge and skill. Despite their similarities (both are aimed at attaining social rank) the two strategies involve very different sets of social psychological phenomena. In addition to (1) discussing and differentiating the two strategies, this chapter (2) describes a program of research investigating their implications for leadership behavior, (3) considers implications of this framework for a number of other social psychological literatures, and (4) provides recommendations for further examining the operation of the two strategies in social groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc
Number of pages52
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Social Psychology
ISSN (Print)0065-2601


  • Dominance
  • Evolution
  • Groups
  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership
  • Power
  • Prestige

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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