Few examples where "unconscious" beats "conscious" hands down are dancing and driving a car.
However, neuro professionals seem to prefer more complex explanations, and avoid using the term unconscious.
To me the theory that seems most consistent with research and my personal experience is that we have multiple selves (self modes/ego states/roles etc.), and only one of them is active at any time. Single continuous consciousness or self is an illusion of the mind.
Each self has it's own will. For example one self can decide to wake up early. If another self is active when we wake up, it can decide to do something else. Being consistent is not so much about will power, but about which self is active.
You can start to control your behavior better by first observing which self is active at any time, and later trying to control that, and not being identified by harmful selves, in other words by increasing your meta-cognitive capabilities.
You could say that your consciousness (or level of consciousness) increases when you are conscious about your consciousness. This is really very difficult, and in the beginning you can do only for short moments before you forget to be second-degree conscious again.
Not true. Signaling is often (always?) done to raise your own status.
I read your essay, you should definitely read Impro. When people talk about social status, they are talking about some stable trait-like thing that you can achieve by for example buying a nice car.
In your essay, you are talking more about the pecking order or dominance hierarchy, which we constantly maintain and test by our actions. That's why many actions of humans can also be viewed as "status transactions".
I also recommend books by Desmond Morris, especially Human Zoo. Many Johnstone's ideas are based on Morris.
In Impro, Johnstone (mentioned by jajvirta below) actual defines friendship as relationship where we can play with status more freely without retaliation, for example by joking.
He compares this to when dogs play catch, always switching pursuer and pursued roles in the middle of the play. Of course dogs can both play catch, and really pursue prey.
While Wei_Dai makes a very important contribution, I think there are couple of technical points that are probably more complex.
Out-group does not necessarily have lower status. There are groups within the out-group, such as moviestars, we regard as having high status. Threatening somebody with out-group is probably other deeply ingrained mechanism at play rather than status. For gregarious animals, being forced out of group maybe even worse than death, if it includes your offspring. It is not directly about status but survival.
Politically incorrect statements (racism etc.) however fit the description of Wei_Dai because groups also have status, and the statements lower the status of the corresponding group.
Johnstone, mentioned by jajvirta below, posits that his version of status is an eufemism for dominance hierarchy, which is one instance of power.
How about using LW to collect the data to answer this question?
For example by introducing tags to mark comments as sexist/racist/otherwise offensive, and few months period to collect data.
After that period there could be another thread to analyze the data and collectively decide how to continue?
Or, rather, the causal relationship is reverse: action causes conscious thought (rationalization).
Once you start looking for it, you can see evidence for this in many places. Quite a few neuroscientists have adopted this view.