Early theoretical work on social exchange focused on how exchange relations generate social structural outcomes. Specifically, gift giving was said to evoke status structures. No experimental evidence exists to verify or refute the notion that gift giving during exchange processes generates status hierarchies. We present experimental results demonstrating the emergence of status inequalities directly from social exchanges in dyads. Our findings support the assertion that the receiving of a gift causes the recipient to feel deferential toward the exchange partner. More formally, we demonstrate how gift giving, linked to a behavioral interchange pattern, has the capacity to induce differential performance expectations. These results are a first step toward testing the theory that status is an emergent property of exchange.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology