Hierarchies in the correlated forms of power (resources) and status (prestige) are constants that organize human societies. This article reviews relevant social psychological literature and identifies several converging results concerning power and status. Whether rank is chronically possessed or temporarily embodied, higher ranks create psychological distance from others, allow agency by the higher ranked, and exact deference from the lower ranked. Beliefs that status entails competence are essentially universal. Interpersonal interactions create warmth-competence compensatory tradeoffs. Along with societal structures (enduring inequality), these tradeoffs reinforce status-competence beliefs. Race, class, and gender further illustrate these dynamics. Although status systems are resilient, they can shift, and understanding those change processes is an important direction for future research, as global demographic changes disrupt existing hierarchies.
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