Dominance and Submission
A dominant human is bold and aggressive, will stand tall and gesture
strongly. A submissive human is meek and passive and will lower his gaze, lower
his head, crouch or otherwise become smaller.
We have recognized that spoken language plays a decisive role in maintain and
changing social status. Polite talk maintains the peace when everybody obeys the
rules of appropriate speech.
When strangers meet, the exchange of greeting behaviors establishes status.
Equal strangers are polite and non-aggressive; they exchange standard greetings
and converse about neutral subjects such as the weather. If their
conversation continues, both will attempt to establish dominance over the other.
Unequal strangers will show status-specific behaviors with degrees of dominance
and submission. Conflict arises when one of the strangers behaves
Deference is the antidote to conflict. In well-organized social situations
status is recognized and conspicuously displayed so that there are few
opportunities for inappropriate encounters.
Dominant humans can command subordinates and will punish disobedience. Group
dynamics always involves the interplay of demands and compliance with demands.
There is inevitable tension in all groups since the task of dominant ones is to
maintain superiority and the task of submissive ones is to challenge dominance
with the hope of improving social status and access to resources and privileges.
There is a deep tendency to prefer dominance. Whenever possible, a human will
seek advantages that will improve his or her status. Thus, it is better to have
a bigger salary, a bigger house, a bigger car and a bigger dog. If you
want to sell something in a competitive market, just claim newer, bigger and
better. A product or service that offers competitive advantage, if
believable, is irresistible.
Occasional confrontations interrupt the social order and sometimes allow
submissive individuals to improve their social status, through alliances, gift
giving, sexual favors and by fighting against authority. Kudryavtseva
stated: “Agonistic (competitive) behavior includes the manifestations of
aggression and submissiveness by individuals in conflict situations and is a
universal form of behavior found in animals of different species. The sensory
contact model allows aggressive and submissive (inhibited, suppressed) types of
behavior to be formed in male mice as a result of acquisition of repeated
experience of social conquests or defeats. Experience of aggression is
accompanied by activation of the dopaminergic systems in the victors.
Experience of social defeat leads to changes in the state of the serotoninergic
and noradrenergic systems of various parts of the brains of the defeated
animals. Significant differences in emotional expression, movement activity,
investigative activity, communicative ability, alcohol consumption, and many
physiological aspects were found in animals of opposite social groups.“