Status is the basic desire for respect based on social standing. Although psychoanalyst Alfred Adler (1971/1929) suggested that people seek status to compensate for unconscious feelings of inferiority, the theory of 16 basic desires assumes that people seek status because they intrinsically value self-importance and respect. Satisfaction of this desire produces feelings of superiority, whereas frustration produces feelings of inferiority.

Generally, the attention other people pay us is a primal indicator of our status. People pay attention to important people and ignore unimportant people.

Your status is an indicator of how much respect and deference is your due.  People feel slighted when they receive less deference than is their due, and they feel flattered when they receive more deference than is their due.  Status motivates people to pay attention to and value their reputation.

Status motivates materialistic values including living in prestigious residential neighborhoods, owning expensive cars, and wearing designer clothes.   

Status motivates people to consider social class when choosing a potential spouse. People with a strong desire for status may aim to marry up in class – that is, marry someone who is wealthy, or marry someone who is beautiful or handsome (a so-called “trophy” spouse). People with a weak desire for status, however, may disregard money or social class when choosing a spouse.

Status motivates interest in clothes. “White-collar” workers, for example, have higher status than do “blue-collar” workers. Lawyers dress in three-piece suits to project the image of success; physicians dress in lab coats to project an image of scientific expertise; and priests dress plainly to show their status before God.

The basic desires for status and power are correlated, perhaps because of a common origin. Unlike animals, human beings can gain dominance in two ways: merit versus inheritance. People can have high status as a consequence of great achievement or as a consequence of high birth. Some people feel important because of their achievements (which falls under the basic desire for power), whereas others feel important because of their high birth, wealth, good looks, or fame (which falls under the basic
desire for status). Achievers look down on royals as undeserving of great respect, whereas royals look down on achievers because they needed to work to become important. Royals pride themselves in their idleness
precisely to make the point that they are so important they do not have to work.

People with a STRONG BASIC DESIRE FOR STATUS value wealth, material things, and social class. They may associate themselves with anything that is popular and may dissociate themselves from anything that is unpopular. They may admire high society and may be impressed with marks of social distinction such as titles and privileges. They may be motivated to embrace the mannerisms, dress, and habits of prestigious or wealthy people. They may like to be associated with the “right” people, and they may be impressed by membership in prestigious social clubs. Personality traits that may apply to them are formal, materialistic, patrician, proud, lofty, and dignified.

People with a WEAK BASIC DESIRE FOR STATUS are unimpressed with high society, wealth, and fame. They believe it is wrong to admire someone just because he/she happened to be born into a certain family or is wealthy. They may not care what others think of them. They may identify with the middle or lower class. Personality traits that describe them are casual, down-to-earth, egalitarian, informal, and unceremonious.

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