Status hierarchies are a part of our everyday social interactions, and people with higher status such as leaders have greater access to resources and can have improved health outcomes. Stressful experiences are common in status hierarchies, but research on stress has traditionally been separate from research on social status and power. I study both of these topics together using tools and theories from social-personality psychology and behavioural neuroendocrinology. My research shows that hormones traditionally associated with status-seeking (testosterone) and stress (cortisol) interact with one another and the social context to regulate behaviours in status hierarchies, such as leadership behaviour, risky decision making, and group performance.
My laboratory is currently expanding its program of research to investigate (i) the impact of social diversity – including diversity in gender, ethnicity, nationality, income, and sexual orientation – on intra- and inter-group behaviours in hierarchical contexts; and (ii) the roles of “female” sex hormones (e.g., estradiol, progesterone) in social hierarchies. My students and I are also devising hormonally informed psychological interventions aimed at improving performance, decision making, and health outcomes across the hierarchical spectrum.