Stress in Social Hierarchies

High-status leadership roles are theorised to reduce stress compared with subordinate roles, but higher rank is not always stress free. In the first part of my talk, I will present experimental evidence suggesting that the stability of the social hierarchy moderates the influence of status on stress responses. High status inhibited stress responses and improved performance during a mock interview in a stable hierarchy, but high status boosted stress responses and carried no performance advantage in an unstable hierarchy. Feeling in control was an asset for interview performance, but increased hormonal stress reactivity was a liability. The findings have applications for improving outcomes in stressful evaluative settings, such as job interviews, and may hold translational implications for the influence of hierarchy on health. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss (1) possible neural mechanisms that may explain associations between steroid hormones and hierarchy-related social behaviours, and (2) the results of a multi-site reproducibility project, which have broad implications for the field of social neuroendocrinology.