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Why do High Status People Have Larger Social Networks? Belief in Status-Quality Coupling as a Driver of Network Broadening Behavior and Social Network Size
Keywords: status, status belief, networking, social network size
Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that the size and reach of people’s social networks tend to be positively related to their social status. We present a novel concept, belief in status-quality coupling (people’s beliefs about the relationship between status and quality), to account for this relationship. Across five studies, we demonstrate that the positive association between social status and network-broadening behavior (and social network size) is contingent on the extent to which people believe that status is a reliable indicator of quality. High- and low- status people who viewed status and quality as tightly coupled differed in their network-broadening behaviors as well as in the size of social networks. The effect was largely driven by the perceived self-value and perceived receptivity of the networking target. Such differences were significantly weaker or nonexistent among equivalently high- and low-status people who viewed status as an unreliable indicator of quality.