Skip to main content Accessibility help

Roles and ranks: The importance of hierarchy for group functioning

  • Julian J. Zlatev (a1), Nir Halevy (a1) and Larissa Z. Tiedens (a1)


Baumeister et al. propose that role differentiation is critical for group functioning. We propose that effective groups require rank differentiation in addition to role differentiation. We suggest that rank differentiation supports division of labor by incentivizing group members, satisfying fundamental human needs, and organizing and integrating the contributions of differentiated group members.



Hide All
Anderson, C. & Brown, C. E. (2010) The functions and dysfunctions of hierarchy. Research in Organizational Behavior 30:5589. doi: 10.1016/j.riob.2010.08.002.
Anderson, C., Hildreth, J. A. D. & Howland, L. (2015) Is the desire for status a fundamental human motive? A review of the empirical literature. Psychological Bulletin 141(3):574601. doi: 10.1037/a0038781.
Anicich, E. M., Swaab, R. I. & Galinsky, A. D. (2015) Hierarchical cultural values predict success and mortality in high-stakes teams. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(5):1338–43. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1408800112.
Barkow, J. H. (1975) Prestige and culture: A biosocial interpretation. Current Anthropology 16(4):553–72. doi: 10.1086/201619.
De Kwaadsteniet, E. W. & van Dijk, E. (2010) Social status as a cue for tacit coordination. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 46(3):515–24. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.01.005.
Ellemers, N., Wilke, H. & Van Knippenberg, A. (1993) Effects of the legitimacy of low group or individual status on individual and collective status-enhancement strategies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64(5):766–78. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.64.5.766.
Emerson, R. M. (1962) Power-dependence relations. American Sociological Review 27(1):3141. doi: 10.2307/2089716.
Fiske, S. T. (2010) Interpersonal stratification: Status, power, and subordination. In: Handbook of social psychology, ed. Fiske, S. T., Gilbert, D. T. & Lindzey, G., pp. 941–82. Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9780470561119.socpsy002026.
Flynn, F. J., Reagans, R. E., Amanatullah, E. T. & Ames, D. R. (2006) Helping one's way to the top: Self-monitors achieve status by helping others and knowing who helps whom. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 91(6):1123–37. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.91.6.1123.
Friesen, J. P., Kay, A. C., Eibach, R. P. & Galinsky, A. D. (2014) Seeking structure in social organization: Compensatory control and the psychological advantages of hierarchy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 106(4):590609. doi: 10.1037/a0035620.
Gruenfeld, D. H. & Tiedens, L. Z. (2010) Organizational preferences and their consequences. In: Handbook of social psychology, ed. Fiske, S. T., Gilbert, D. T. & Lindzey, G., pp. 1252–87. Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9780470561119.socpsy002033.
Halevy, N., Chou, E. Y., Cohen, T. R. & Livingston, R. W. (2012a) Status conferral in intergroup social dilemmas: Behavioral antecedents and consequences of prestige and dominance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102(2):351–66. doi: 10.1037/a0025515.
Halevy, N., Chou, E. Y. & Galinsky, A. D. (2011) A functional model of hierarchy: Why, how, and when vertical differentiation enhances group performance. Organizational Psychology Review 1(1):3252. doi: 10.1177/2041386610380991.
Halevy, N., Chou, E. Y., Galinsky, A. D. & Murnighan, J. K. (2012b) When hierarchy wins: Evidence from the National Basketball Association. Social Psychological and Personality Science 3(4):398406. doi: 10.1177/1948550611424225.
Hardy, C. L. & Van Vugt, M. (2006) Nice guys finish first: The competitive altruism hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 32(10):1402–13. doi: 10.1177/0146167206291006.
Heath, C. & Staudenmayer, N. (2000) Coordination neglect: How lay theories of organizing complicate coordination in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior 22:153–93. doi: 10.1016/S0191-3085(00)22005-4.
Lawrence, P. R. & Lorsch, J. W. (1967) Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration. Harvard Business School Press.
Magee, J. C. & Galinsky, A. D. (2008) Social hierarchy: The self-reinforcing nature of power and status. The Academy of Management Annals 2(1):351–98. doi: 10.1080/19416520802211628.
March, J. G. & Simon, H. A. (1958) Organizations. Wiley.
McCoy, S. K. & Major, B. (2007) Priming meritocracy and the psychological justification of inequality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43(3):341–51. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2006.04.009.
Ronay, R., Greenaway, K., Anicich, E. M. & Galinsky, A. D. (2012) The path to glory is paved with hierarchy: When hierarchical differentiation increases group effectiveness. Psychological Science 23(6):669–77. doi: 10.1177/0956797611433876.
Shaw, J. D., Gupta, N. & Delery, J. E. (2002) Pay dispersion and workforce performance: Moderating effects of incentives and interdependence. Strategic Management Journal 23(6):491512. doi: 10.1002/smj.235.
Simpson, B., Willer, R. & Ridgeway, C. L. (2012) Status hierarchies and the organization of collective action. Sociological Theory 30(3):149–66. doi: 10.1177/0735275112457912.
Tiedens, L. Z. & Fragale, A. R. (2003) Power moves: Complementarity in dominant and submissive nonverbal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(3):558–68. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.3.558.
Tiedens, L. Z., Unzueta, M. M. & Young, M. J. (2007) An unconscious desire for hierarchy? The motivated perception of dominance complementarity in task partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 93(3):402–14. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.3.402.
Tyler, T. R. (2006) Psychological perspectives on legitimacy and legitimation. Annual Review of Psychology 57(1):375400. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190038.
Van Vugt, M., Hogan, R. & Kaiser, R. B. (2008) Leadership, followership, and evolution: Some lessons from the past. American Psychologist 63(3):182–96. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.3.182.
Willer, R. (2009) Groups reward individual sacrifice: The status solution to the collective action problem. American Sociological Review 74(1):2343. doi: 10.1177/000312240907400102.
Zitek, E. M. & Tiedens, L. Z. (2012) The fluency of social hierarchy: The ease with which hierarchical relationships are seen, remembered, learned, and liked. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 102(1):98115. doi: 10.1037/a0025345.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed