Brief articleMental representations of social status
Review articleOpen access

AbstractHow do people think about social status? We investigated the nature of social status and number representations using a semantic distance latency test. In Study 1, 21 college students compared words connoting different social status as well as numbers, which served as a control task. Participants were faster at comparing occupations and numbers that were semantically farther apart relative to those more closely related. In Study 2, we examined the semantic distance effect for a social status category, for which participants have as much knowledge of, as with numbers. We asked 15 US Navy Midshipmen to compare the social status associated with different ranks in the Navy as well as compare number magnitudes. Participants were fastest when comparing ranks far in status relative to ranks close in status. These findings reveal that humans have mental representations of social status that share properties with that of number.

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