Creating and Spreading Status Beliefs
In this article, two experiments support status construction theory's claim that interaction spreads status beliefs through behavior, creating a diffusion process that makes widely shared beliefs possible. The first demonstrates that people who hold a status belief can “teach” it by treating the other in accord with the belief. The second shows that third‐party participants who witness such behavioral treatments also acquire the status belief. The first experiment also verifies a general mechanism by which interaction creates status beliefs: nominally different participants developed shared status beliefs about the difference from the repeated enactment of influence hierarchies corresponding to the difference. This general mechanism suggests that any structural condition that gives one group a systematic advantage in gaining influence over another group in intergroup encounters will foster the development of widely shared status beliefs favoring the advantaged group.