How getting by and getting ahead influences our life and politics

Some research finds that most people would forgo a pay raise in exchange for a more important-sounding job title, according to author William Storr.

Courtesy of Victoire Joncheray on Unsplash.

We’re social creatures, and as a part of that, we want to get along with others. But importantly, we also want to get ahead of them.

That’s at least the thesis behind the author Will Storr’s latest book, “The Status Game.” In it, he argues that in everything we do — work or school, sports or volunteering — we are aware of our standing compared to others, and desire the approval and adoration of them, too.

While this may seem obvious, if true, it could carry deep consequences for us all. If it’s status that drives us, then material interests may often matter less.

“Once we’re earning enough money to survive, and be okay and heat our homes and feed our children — everything above that tends to be (about) status.” — Will Storr, journalist and author

Under this model, people may become great scientists and business owners more for the adulation than the payout. Union workers may want dignity and respect more than they want a raise. And voters may often cast their ballots on behalf of their social group — even if that is materially costly.

 Listen: How seeking higher status drives our lives.



​​Will Storr is a journalist and author of many books including most recently, “The Status Game: On Human Life and How to Play It.” He says people acutely measure status, even subconsciously, in a whole range of situations.

“Once we’re earning enough money to survive, and be okay and heat our homes and feed our children — everything above that tends to be (about) status,” says Storr.

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