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The Roots and Fruits of Social Status in Small-Scale Human Societies

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Document pages: 44 pages

Abstract: Since humans have lived in small-scale societies for the majority of our existence, investigation of the determinants and reproductive outcomes of status acquisition in these societies can help elucidate the origins of status psychology. In this chapter I argue that in even the most egalitarian foragers and horticulturalists, inter-individual differences in physical size, production skill, generosity, or social support produce disparity in men’s political influence and mating opportunity. The reproductive advantages of status not only include higher fertility from privileged access to marriage partners and extra-marital affairs but also better survival of offspring. These benefits to status in small-scale societies have become more apparent over the past several decades, as quantitative ethnography has challenged prior conceptions about the extent of human egalitarianism.

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