Dominace vs. Prestige

prestige shiny


In today's world, we see an egging on of how important one is and how we rank with within groups of people on the basis of dominance versus prestige. What I mean by this is the hubristic or authentic pride that comes from one's inner personality. Radcliffe-Brown states "besides the respect for seniority, there is another important factor in the regulation of social life, namely the respect for certain personal qualities. These qualities are skill in hunting and warfare, generosity and kindness, and freedom from bad temper". These personal qualities gauge how prestigious and accepted we are in our community and especially how influential we may be.

dominance tiger


On the flip side of things there lies dominance. Dominance is what makes people seem powerful or influential. Cheng et. al. state that "In humans, dominance is not limited to physical conflict, but can be wielded by controlling costs and benefits in many domains, and is typically seen in individuals who control access to resources, mates, and well-being". This means that dominance usually is portrayed through your access to resources rather than your actions like how prestige is shown.

Prestige is more valuable

This brings us to the main difference between dominance and prestige. Dominance seems to be more of an entitlement effect whereas prestige is more of a maturity skill. What we have to decide is whether we want dominance or prestige. I argue that prestige is the more valuable trait. I believe prestige is harder to attain than dominance as dominance is more of a power move that doesn't require much internal dialogue or cognitive skills. Dominance is seen in animals at any point in the food chain whereas prestige is shown in primarily socially successful groups. Let's divulge from the norm and become more socially successful. Strive for prestigiousness and let your impressive leadership influence rather than dominant. This starts when we continue to think differently.


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  1. Cheng, Tracy, & Henrich. (2010). Pride, personality, and the evolutionary foundations of human social status. Evolution and Human Behavior, 31(5), 334-347.
  2. Henrich, J., Chudek, M., & Boyd, R. (2015). The Big Man Mechanism: How prestige fosters cooperation and creates prosocial leaders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 370(1683), 20150013.
  3. Hughes, E. C. (1959). Prestige. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 325(1), 45–49.

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