Status Characteristic Theory

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Status Characteristics Theory A group of five college students who each belonged to a Greek association had to decide on what hotel to stay in during their spring break vacation in Cancun. There is a valued, collective task within this situation. They all have invested a lot of money for this trip and they all want to make sure they get the most for their money. All of the five students knew each other and the organizations to which they belong prior to this meeting. The characteristics of each are as follows: Name Year Sex Greek Organization Ethnicity Jeff Senior Male Sigma Epsilon European American Bonnie Sophomore Female Phi Sigma Hispanic American Dustin Junior Male Tao Omega European American Clyde Sophomore Male Kappa Phi African American Haley Senior Female Alpha Delta European American All the students are from very different organizations and possess the general characteristics that are associated with their specific organization. For instance, it is known on this particular campus that the Phi Sigma's are the "promiscuous" girls, the Tao Omega boys are the "party animals," the Sigma Epsilon gentlemen are the most active in the Student Government Association, and so forth. Thus, the expectations they have from their knowledge of the Greek clubs are relevant in the way they are going to interact. Also, the gender and ethnicity of each of the students are external status characteristics that contribute to the expectations one may have of their particular input. The meeting was held in a small room with a large, rectangular table. No one sat at the very ends of the table. Jeff and Haley sat on opposite sides of each other in the middle of the table. Right away, this behavior of being a central focus leads to the expectation of their ability to be leaders and accomplish the task. Hence, stratification has occurred. Jeff, Haley, and Dustin spoke the most during the course of the interaction and were dismissive toward the underclassmen, Bonnie and Clyde, when they had a suggestion. Jeff, Haley, and Dustin have attributed a set of characteristics toward Bonnie and Clyde and their stance stays this way throughout the interaction. This is the cause of sequencing. Furthermore, Bonnie and Clyde are ethnic minorities and differ from Jeff, Haley, and Dustin in external status. Stratified behavior patterns could have been present even at the outset of the interaction.

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