I'm trying to do some research related to human dominance including social signaling and how dominance is both successfully and unsuccessfully challenged.  Ideally I'd like to find what the common factors are rather than having it be too particular to one community or another.  Unfortunately everything I can find on the topic is either about dominance behavior of other primates or is ad-hoc self-help advice by self-proclaimed gurus of social power.

Can anyone point me in the direction of the science of human dominance behavior?

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One recent psychology paper on human dominance is:

Tiedens, L. Z., Unzueta, M. M., & Young, M. J. (2007). The desire for hierarchy?: The motivated perception of dominance complementarity in task partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 402-414. pdf

Hopefully the citation trail from there will lead you to more relevant work.

Thank you, this looks quite promising.

Cialdini's Influence?

It's not dominance per se, but it's about getting people to do what you want.

I've just ordered a copy. It keeps coming up as a useful reference, even if it might not be exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks for bringing it up!


Having read, Influence, The Prince and, 48 laws of Power I found Cialdini's book the most satisfying to read because it was filled with empirical research. The latter books I mentioned were no doubt excellent reads however anecdotal. Also, Influence is presented in the least "dark arts" ways from the other two. The book is about learning to stay ahead of influence just as much as it is about influencing.

Whoever downvoted this might want to explain why -- the signal seems to be "this is not an a good source for this topic", but more information would probably be helpful.

Excellent! This certainly looks relevant. Thank you!


" Ideally I'd like to find what the common factors are rather than having it be too particular to one community or another"

If you'd like to find dominance traits that are present in humans across-cultures, as in being universal, i don't think topics on dominance behavior of primates are such a bad idea. Such studies find the basic mechanisms behind the dominance behavior, which for the most part are very applicable to human behavior. The mechanisms, such as social status, power and ressources, are just hidden behind our cultural history.

Did i state the obvious or was it useful?

This seems to be more about environmental issues (using "dominance" in the sense of humans being dominant over the environment) than about social dynamics between individuals. That's not quite what I'm looking for. But thanks anyway!

I see. Wikipedia lots of material about dominance in other animals - and it has at least one reference which is relevant to humans.

I also found Dominance, Status, and Social Hierarchies By Denise Cummins - which has references.

Aha! I didn't think to attach "hierarchy" to the Wikipedia search. The chapter looks promising, too. Thank you!