The importance of status congruency in interaction processes



The literature on status congruency is summarized in two statements: 1) Individuals strive after status congruency, and 2) status congruency involves favorable state for individuals, groups and the society. The two reported experiments throw serious doubts on the generality of these statements.

Experiment I is a variation of Burnstein and Zajonc's (1965) experiment. It is hypothesized and shown that the striving after congruency is weakened under condition of a competitive reward structure, the Ss giving incongruent self-rankings. Moreover it is found that nominations for a different task are not congruent at all.

Experiment II was designed to replicate and extend Exline and Ziller's (1959) experiment, in which it was shown that status congruency in small groups causes interpersonal conflict. On none of the several measures was clear support obtained.

In the discussion it is argued that there is hardly any experimental evidence for the two statements formulated above. It is pointed out that the correlational relationships between status congruency and other variables may be attributed to some internal cognitive link in the person, serving as an intermediate variable, the forces of it perhaps being self-interest (as supported by Experiment I), a need for clarity and a need for justice.