Life in society: why are we so impressed by status and image

Life in society: why are we so impressed with the status and the image


The aura of status and notoriety is a normal effect of life in society, but it is also a lure and it is in our interest to question it, to diversify our influences and to listen less loud voices.

Sometimes humans are like deer stuck in car headlights. We are easily impressed by nice clothes, uniforms and prestigious brands. All of these symbols of status or authority inspire respect whether they deserve it or not. In addition, they tend to make us suspend our critical sense and our distrust.

To varying degrees, we also tend to be impressed by people who have a reputation (celebrities, public figures) or a recognized expertise. They generally seem confident and our intuitions lead us to attribute a certain authority to them even when their reasoning is rather simplistic.

The authority or status conferred on certain people is a positive bias, a power intuitively attributed to someone based on a social role (leader, judge, etc.), reputation or a feeling of admiration (author, artist, influencer…). 

We respect, we admire and we become attached to personalities, either because they bring us something (security, leadership, inspiration, happiness) through their contributions, or because we follow the example of those who respect them.

The instinct of respect and admiration for those who stand out is inherited from our distant ancestors and has been shaped by our culture. 

Status attracts attention. Influential people are quickly detected in groups because of their notoriety. They evoke a certain attraction and one has the impression that one would benefit from listening to them or following them. We tend to overestimate their qualities and overvalue their opinions.  

The statute confers a reserve of credibility. For leaders, credibility serves to rally the troops, form consensus and make difficult choices. For public figures, credibility gives them support and ambition to keep contributing.

Too much power for some and not enough for others

< p>While it has some use, our attraction to status has several flaws. First, we often give our trust too completely, too quickly or too long to people who have status.

In addition, some people forget that status is a gift to be enjoyed, a credit given by the group. Status is often a drug. When we have tasted it, we do not want to miss it, which can increase our insecurity. 

Some people may want to compensate for their insecurity by displaying their power (becoming pretentious or arrogant) or by abusing their power (to intimidate, to attack). 

When we attribute a special status to people, we emphasize hierarchical differences. There are those who are listened to more, but there are also those who are less considered because of their lack of social status (social pariahs, outcasts…), because of their overly disturbing style or even because of lack of access to the networks that fuel notoriety.

Challenge our admiration and distribute it better

People who have lost Empathy or compassion because of status can often be brought down to earth by loved ones, negative experiences, or professional training.  

For the rest of us, we must above all remember to distribute our admiration in moderation and to try not to follow the delirious crowd too much. Our admiration is a wealth that we can share with a large number of people whose notoriety is not yet very high, but who have great potential.