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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
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.