We propose that the psychological states individuals bring into newly formed groups can produce meaningful differences in status attainment. Three experiments explored whether experimentally created approach-oriented mindsets affected status attainment in groups, both immediately and over time. We predicted that approach-oriented states would lead to greater status attainment by increasing proactive behavior. Furthermore, we hypothesized that these status gains would persist longitudinally, days after the original mindsets had dissipated, due to the self-reinforcing behavioral cycles the approach-oriented states initiated. In Experiment 1, individuals primed with a promotion focus achieved higher status in their newly formed groups, and this was mediated by proactive behavior as rated by themselves and their teammates. Experiment 2 was a longitudinal experiment and revealed that individuals primed with power achieved higher status, both immediately following the prime and when the groups were reassembled 2 days later to work on new tasks. These effects were mediated by independent coders' ratings of proactive behavior during the first few minutes of group interaction. Experiment 3 was another longitudinal experiment and revealed that priming happiness led to greater status as well as greater acquisition of material resources. Importantly, these immediate and longitudinal effects were independent of the effects of a number of stable dispositional traits. Our results establish that approach-oriented psychological states affect status attainment, over and above the more stable characteristics emphasized in prior research, and provide the most direct test yet of the self-reinforcing nature of status hierarchies. These findings depict a dynamic view of status organization in which the same group may organize itself differently depending on members' incoming psychological states.

G. Kilduff and Adam Galinsky
Journal Article
Publication Date
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Full Citation

Kilduff, G. and Adam Galinsky
. “From the ephemeral to the enduring: How approach-oriented mindsets lead to greater status.”
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, (November 01, 2013):