Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Barry Markovsky


Through what mediums is it possible to spread status? Prior research shows that status can be inferred from reward states, status and expectations can spread from one valued characteristic to another, and that differences in the status value of an object possessed by an individual can lead to differences in power during exchange interactions. However, it is not known if possession of these objects actually results in increased status and expectations for an individual possessing the status valued object. Building on Status Value Theory, Status Construction Theory, Reward Expectations Theory, and the Status Value Theory of Power, I construct a theoretical extension to Status Value Theory that proposes that objects are able to temporarily transfer status via possession.

In this thesis I lay out the theoretical extension, referred to as the Possession of Status Value Theory, and provide results from an experiment done on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. Results provide partial support for the theory, showing that the status value of objects possess by high status others is acknowledge by future recipients of a status valued object. However, status value transfers only when the participant possesses the high status valued object, and expectations transfer only when their partner is possesses the high status valued object. In addition, low status valued objects seem to have a floor effect for how little status value they contain and how low the expectations individuals have for themselves and others can fall because of possession. The thesis concludes with a discussion of these findings, proposing 3 possible explanations for the results, and future directions for this research.

Included in

Sociology Commons