Children’s Understanding and Use of Four Dimensions of Social Status

Elizabeth A. Enright, Daniel J. Alonso, Bella M. Lee, Kristina R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Beginning early in life, children are exposed to people who differ in social status. In five studies, we investigate whether 3- to 6-year-old children recognize different dimensions of status (i.e., wealth, physical dominance, decision-making power, and prestige) and use these dimensions to inform their social judgments (preferences and resource allocation). Across studies, we found that by age 3, children identify high-status people as in-charge. Further, while 3-6-year-olds favor higher status individuals over lower status individuals on a preference measure, 5-6-year-olds allocate a resource to a lower status individual over a higher status individual and 3-4-year-olds are at chance in their allocation. We observed minimal differences across dimensions of status in these studies. Taken together, across five pre-registered studies, we demonstrated that children identify and use social status distinctions to inform their social judgments across a variety of different dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-602
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Cognition and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 7 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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