Why Do Men Seek Status? Fitness Payoffs to Dominance and Prestige
In many human societies, high male social status associates with higher fertility, but the means by which status increases lifetime fitness have not been systematically investigated. We analyse the pathways by which male status begets reproductive success in a small-scale, Amerindian society. Men who are more likely to win a dyadic physical confrontation, i.e. dominant men, have higher intra-marital fertility for their age, and men with more community-wide influence, i.e. prestigious men, exhibit both higher intra-marital fertility and lower offspring mortality. Both forms of status elicit support from allies and deference from competitors, but high status men are not provisioned more than their peers. Prestigious but not dominant men marry wives who first give birth at earlier ages, which multivariate analysis suggests is the strongest pathway between status and fitness in this population. Furthermore, men are motivated to pursue status because of fitness gains both within and outside of marital unions: dominant and prestigious men have more in-pair surviving offspring as well as more extra-marital affairs.
von Rueden C, Gurven, M., & Kaplan, H. (2011). Why do men seek status? Fitness payoffs to dominance and prestige. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1715), 2223-32. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.2145
The Royal Society