Force and Persuasion: How Do We Humans Climb the Social Hierarchy?

Joey Cheng (York University)

10 juin 2022, 11h30–12h30


Salle Auditorium 6


The avenues through which people compete for social rank are seemingly varied. Do these different strategies effectively promote rank? How do they manifest in behavior (e.g., nonverbally in the voice and body posture)? What effects do these influence tactics, when used by leaders, have on team success and well-being? This talk will explore how two fundamental strategies to social rank—dominance (i.e., relying on intimidation to induce compliance) and prestige (i.e., earning respect via competence to increase persuasion)—influence individual and group outcomes. In both field and lab groups, individuals who use a dominance or a prestige strategy exercise greater behavioral impact and receive more visual attention. Prestige, however, appears to offer a more stable form of influence over time. Highlighting the distinction between these strategies, individuals signal their dominance by deepening their voice pitch—a unique vocal pattern that is absent among those who adopt a prestige strategy. In terms of collective outcomes, when these strategies are deployed by leaders, dominant leaders lead to group-wide negative affect. By contrast, prestigious leaders boost team creativity, follower loyalty, and positive affect. Together, these findings indicate that although both dominance and prestige strategies reward individuals with higher rank and social success, they are underpinned by distinct nonverbal signals and biological substrates, and confer distinct benefits and costs on self, other, and teams. Other current and future research will be highlighted.


Joey Cheng (York University), « Force and Persuasion: How Do We Humans Climb the Social Hierarchy? », IAST General Seminar, Toulouse : IAST, 10 juin 2022, 11h30–12h30, salle Auditorium 6.