cSCAN Rounds

The influence of social status on stress depends on the stability of the hierarchy

High-status leadership roles are theorised to reduce stress compared with subordinate roles, but higher rank is not always stress-free. In this talk, I will present experimental evidence suggesting that the stability of the social hierarchy moderates the influence of status on stress responses. High status inhibited stress responses and improved performance during a mock interview in a stable hierarchy, but high status boosted stress responses and carried no performance advantage in an unstable hierarchy. Feeling in control was an asset for interview performance, but increased hormonal stress reactivity was a liability. The findings have applications for improving outcomes in stressful evaluative settings, such as job interviews, and may hold translational implications for the influence of hierarchy on health.