The Relative Importance of Perceived Acceptance Versus Perceived Social Status for Emotional Outcomes and Self-Esteem
A growing body of research has examined the effects of social status on emotional outcomes and self-esteem. However, few of these studies have controlled for acceptance, leading some researchers to suggest that the reported effects of perceived social status on emotional outcomes and self-esteem may largely reflect effects of perceived acceptance. The aim of the current set of studies was to broadly examine the differential impact of perceived acceptance and perceived social status on emotional outcomes and self-esteem. Across studies, results revealed that acceptance and status were naturally confounded constructs, as expected. In Study 1, both acceptance and status uniquely predicted emotional outcomes and self-esteem, but acceptance was generally the stronger predictor. In Study 2, none of the effects of social status remained after controlling for acceptance. In Study 3, both acceptance and status uniquely affected self-esteem, with no significant differences in strength of prediction. For emotional outcomes, acceptance uniquely and strongly impacted all emotions measured, whereas status only uniquely affected happiness and pride. In Study 4, people generally placed greater value on acceptance than social status when forced to make a choice. Taken together, these findings suggest that social status has unique effects on self-esteem and some emotional outcomes, but acceptance is the stronger predictor of emotional outcomes.
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