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Internal Status Sorting in Groups: The Problem of too many Stars

Status and Groups

ISBN: 978-0-76231-229-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-358-7

ISSN: 1534-0856

Publication date: 16 August 2005


Social and task groups need a few high-status members who can be leaders and trend setters, and many more lower-status members who can follow and contribute work without challenging the group's direction (Caporael (1997). Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1, 276–298; Caporael & Baron (1997). In: J. Simpson, & D. Kenrick (Eds), Evolutionary social psychology (pp. 317–343). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum; Brewer (1997). In: C. McGarty, & S.A. Haslam (Eds), The message of social psychology: Perspectives on mind in society (pp. 54–62). Malden, MA: Blackwell). When groups come together without a priori status differentiation, a status hierarchy must be implemented; however, if the new members are too homogeneously status seeking, then it is not clear what will result. We argue that hierarchy will develop even in uniformly status-seeking groups, and that the social context and members’ relational characteristics – specifically, the degree to which they are group oriented rather than self-serving – will predict which status seekers succeed in gaining status. We discuss why and how a “status sorting” process will occur to award status to a few members and withhold it from most, and the consequences of this process for those who are sorted downward.


Overbeck, J.R., Correll, J. and Park, B. (2005), "Internal Status Sorting in Groups: The Problem of too many Stars", Thomas-Hunt, M.C. (Ed.) Status and Groups (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 169-199.



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