International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Experimental Evidence on Status & Conflict

Jonathan Renshon, Harvard University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Harvard University
Research Area: Political decision making

Status or prestige concerns have long been assumed to hold great importance in international relations. Such concerns have been implicated in decisions to acquire nuclear weapons, to maintain national space programs and even to launch violent military conflicts. Yet, we are still far from a complete understanding of status motivations and their effects on judgment and decision-making. In this paper, I present evidence from a series of experiments that investigate two aspects of status motivations. Both studies use a unique sample of real-world leaders to allay some of the potential problems related to external validity. Study 1 investigates how much individuals value status by focusing on trade-offs between material gains and temporary prestige gains. It also presents evidence on several individual difference measures that are associated with a greater desire for status. Study 2 presents evidence on the behavioral effects of status concerns, focusing in particular on the relationship between status concerns and aggression.