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The Crucial Links Between Social Status and Health via [Psychology Today]

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Body of Evidence: Top of the Heap

Name: Sonja Tremont-Morgan

Profession: Philanthropist

Tremont-Morgan, once married to a descendant of J.P. Morgan and John
Adams, is very aware of social status, having put herself through
college and now donating her energy and resources to benefits around the
world. Not one to take her current lifestyle for granted, she says,
Education is a great luxury.”

  • King Kong of the HillYour place in the pecking order may predict your susceptibility to
    addiction. Thanks to chronic social strain, neural reward centers are
    less active in subordinate monkeys than in dominant ones. As a result,
    stressful encounters increase beta primates’ demands for cocaine.
  • Lab Partner from HellCollaborating for just a few minutes with someone who dominates the
    assignment can increase your cardiovascular reactivity to stress. Study
    participants who worked with an assertive partner and then performed a
    tension-inducing follow-up task saw a higher increase in systolic blood
    pressure than those paired with a deferential teammate.
  • Cold ShouldersFeeling high on the totem pole could spare you a lot of sneezes. A
    study in which people were exposed to a virus and then quarantined
    showed that those who rated their socioeconomic status (SES) the lowest
    were much more likely to come down with sniffles than were others. Less
    sound sleep among those low on the ladder partially caused the sickening
    effect.
  • Mind Your MannerismsEven without bling, your body exudes elaborate clues to wealth.
    Watching someone’s casual conversational behavior for only a minute
    provides enough info to guess his SES better than chance. While those
    with fewer resources show more signs of engagement, such as nodding and
    laughing, the well-heeled remain aloof.
  • The Young and the SES-lessGrowing up downtrodden may permanently sensitize you to social
    threats. Young adults raised by parents with low SES react more
    emotionally to angry faces than do others.
  • Say UncleWhy do some people step up their game after an embarrassing defeat
    while others roll over and play dead? Social anxiety has a big role.
    Although baseline testosterone levels—associated with dominance—are no
    lower in the socially anxious, these worriers respond to drops in status
    with dips in the hormone and a submissive white flag.

Author: Matthew Hutson

Social status reveals a wealth about health. Having more confidence
and resources can shield you from ill health.


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