Dominance hierarchy in a nutshell: why, how, dangers and solutions.

  Vol. 43 (5) 2022 Neuro endocrinology letters Journal Article   2022; 43(5): 270-280 PubMed PMID:  36584407    Citation

: Life in societies has evolved as a response of organisms to environmental conditions. Dominance hierarchy forms an inner structure of a society which allows society members to stay together without repeated fighting. Access to resources is provided by hierarchical status. In the absence of resources, the lowest ranking individuals are the most at risk. Certain patterns of dominance hierarchy persist in modern people in Euro-American societies. Moreover, special patterns have occurred, such as parallel membership in various subgroups, voluntary access to some of the subgroups, reverse hierarchy, and tendencies towards equality. In spite of these changes, hierarchy still influences the life of an individual. The probability of survival, reproduction, communication and transfer of information may serve as examples. Both high hierarchical disparity and isolation cause stress and health problems. Feelings of guilt, fear, and stress can be used as markers of a harmful disparity. Warning signs include the lack of supportive interpersonal relationships, prestige, social norms, and cultural products that could mitigate the hierarchical difference. In this review, we address the principles and functioning of dominance hierarchy, describe the structure of hierarchy in modern societies, and explain how the rank of the individual is determined and shapes the life of a person. We briefly summarize the basic patterns of dominant and submissive behaviour. The rank of the individual is predictable and so is the behaviour connected to his/her rank. This allows us to predict where particular aid and attention are required.

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