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Social Influence in Informal Networks: Are The Two Ways to The Top Equally Viable and Available for All
The socio-evolutionary framework of rank allocation discusses two ways – dominance or prestige – by which individuals can attain and maintain status or influence within their groups. Individuals associated with dominance orientation influence others by being assertive, controlling or forceful, whereas those associated with prestige rely on sharing of skills, knowledge and active collaboration. The empirical work has found both status striving behaviors as viable means of influence and have discussed them as two viable yet alternate routes to influence. In doing so, this literature has largely neglected findings from the extant gender work where women are punished for behaving in agentic or dominant manner. Likewise, men in certain situations may not see any status benefits when they behave in a more communal or collaborative manner. In this research, we integrate the two streams of research to examine the role of gender on influence based on these two distinct status striving behaviors. Using a real and stereotypical neutral context of individuals behavior in their social network (Twitter), we found that men’s influence increased with greater dominance, whereas women’s decreased. On the contrary, men’s influence decreased with greater prestige whereas women’s increased. Network centrality explained this differential interaction pattern of dominance, prestige and gender on influence. In doing so, this research highlights the importance of considering the role of gender stereotypes and offers important theoretical caveats to the socio-evolutionary status framework.