Status Characteristics Theory
A group of five college students who each belonged to a Greek association had to decide on what hotel to stay in during their spring break vacation in Cancun. There is a valued, collective task within this situation. They all have invested a lot of money for this trip and they all want to make sure they get the most for their money. All of the five students knew each other and the organizations to which they belong prior to this meeting. The characteristics of each are as follows:
Name Year Sex Greek Organization Ethnicity
Jeff Senior Male Sigma Epsilon European American
Bonnie Sophomore Female Phi Sigma Hispanic American
Dustin Junior Male Tao Omega European American
Clyde Sophomore Male Kappa Phi African American
Haley Senior Female Alpha Delta European American
All the students are from very different organizations and possess the general characteristics that are associated with their specific organization. For instance, it is known on this particular campus that the Phi Sigma’s are the “promiscuous” girls, the Tao Omega boys are the “party animals,” the Sigma Epsilon gentlemen are the most active in the Student Government Association, and so forth. Thus, the expectations they have from their knowledge of the Greek clubs are relevant in the way they are going to interact. Also, the gender and ethnicity of each of the students are external status characteristics that contribute to the expectations one may have of their particular input.
The meeting was held in a small room with a large, rectangular table. No one sat at the very ends of the table. Jeff and Haley sat on opposite sides of each other in the middle of the table. Right away, this behavior of being a central focus leads to the expectation of their ability to be leaders and accomplish the task. Hence, stratification has occurred.
Jeff, Haley, and Dustin spoke the most during the course of the interaction and were dismissive toward the underclassmen, Bonnie and Clyde, when they had a suggestion. Jeff, Haley, and Dustin have attributed a set of characteristics toward Bonnie and Clyde and their stance stays this way throughout the interaction. This is the cause of sequencing. Furthermore, Bonnie and Clyde are ethnic minorities and differ from Jeff, Haley, and Dustin in external status. Stratified behavior patterns could have been present even at the outset of the interaction.
Throughout the decision making process, Jeff showed clear signs of dominant behavior. Speaking loudly and quickly were a few of his actions. Haley was always listening attentively to what the others had to say, sat up straight, and maintained eye-contact with all when she spoke, even with Dustin who always directed his statements toward the male students.
This exposition shows definite signs of status characteristics. One can concur that all the principles apply with this situation. Status was a clear aspect in the way all of the students interacted. Overall, they decided unanimously what hotel to stay in and they had a good time in Cancun.