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Sizing Up Status Signals: An Integrative Framework
Status signals are essential for signalling and negotiating rank and expertise. There is disagreement across literatures on how status signals are defined and conceptualized. Which signals are most similar to one another and how can they be bundled? What are specific costs and benefits of signal types? To answer these questions, we present an updated definition of status signals relevant across the social sciences and we offer a two dimensional framework that differentiates status signals into four categories. Our model highlights how signals within each of the four resulting categories share similarities in costs, benefits, and assumptions of audience knowledge. Our framework offers dynamic predictions that capture how different signals are more versus less beneficial as one advances up a hierarchy. This framework not only pushes theoretical models of social hierarchy forward but it also offers practical guidelines for effectively signally and negotiating one’s actual and desired status.