Folk explanations of human behaviour often refer to "high status" or "low status", and the phrase sometimes pops up in more formal contexts (e.g. this question).

However, one of the most cited sources cited as exposition of these concepts is a popular book on improvisational theatre rather than a research publication.

What body of research, if any, addresses these concepts more rigorously?

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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean "status" as a sociological term? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Jan 24 '12 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ I mean "status" as used in the Impro book and elsewhere on the Web :) $\endgroup$
    – Morendil
    Jan 25 '12 at 14:56

This is a really broad question - what you seem to be asking is: what research addresses social hierarchies, competition, and neurological/psychological/physiological effects of perception of social status.

It's interesting to note that social status signals likely developed before language, as they are a means of non-verbal communication (language is quite new, evolutionarily-speaking).

In the most broad sense, the answer to your question is that research on social psychology and social neuroscience, particularly that related to hierarchy, dominance, and perception of social standing, is what you're looking for. This is the 'body of research'.

Past this point, I'm not sure what you're asking... Are you wondering in what brain structures this type of behavior appears to originate? Or are you more interested in the cognitive processing going on behind the scenes when people mentally alter their internalized social standing? Or are you looking for a jumping off point?

If you are particularly looking for the neural basis of this behavior, check out the links below. All relate to the neurological basis of social processing in the human brain.

Original answer:

I'm at work so I don't have a lot of time to put together a comprehensive answer, but here are some articles:

For the record, the Google search used to find these was neural correlates of perceived social +status

  • $\begingroup$ would you be able to expand on this answer to summarize the basic findings of these papers? Or their topics further than just title? $\endgroup$ Sep 14 '12 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ i went with altering the answer entirely for now; i'll get around to reading all of these eventually... $\endgroup$
    – BenCole
    Sep 14 '12 at 15:28

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