Beyond Dominance and Competence: A Moral Virtue Theory of Status Attainment

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Recognition has grown that moral behavior (e.g., generosity) plays a role in status attainment, yet it remains unclear how, why, and when demonstrating moral characteristics enhances status. Drawing on philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and organizational behavior, I critically review a third route to attaining status: virtue, and propose a moral virtue theory of status attainment to provide a generalized account of the role of morality in status attainment. The moral virtue theory posits that acts of virtue elicit feelings of warmth and admiration (for virtue), and willing deference, toward the virtuous actor. I further consider how the scope and priority of moralities and virtues endorsed by a moral community are bound by culture and social class to affect which moral characteristics enhance status. I end by outlining an agenda for future research into the role of virtue in status attainment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-227
Number of pages25
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • admiration
  • culture
  • morality
  • social class
  • social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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