A recent study by Vanderbilt University in the United States confirms that exposure to people in high and diverse positions can have different effects on health. It turns out that economic inequality plays a key role in this process.
Researchers Lijun Song and Philip Petitis examine the relationship between a person’s socioeconomic status and their health. They argue that our health depends on the social status of our social contacts, such as family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. The results of their study were published in the journal Science Direct.
To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from voluminous social surveys conducted in the United States, Taiwan and urban parts of China. They wanted to find out whether the status of a person’s acquaintances could be the cause of an illness that lasted more than a week.
It turned out that social status can affect health in different ways. People with higher status tended to be healthier overall. They are more aware of their health status, have more time and money to invest in a healthy lifestyle, are less likely to be stressed, and have access to better health care. This phenomenon is called social capital theory.
However, researchers have found that access to high social status can also have the opposite effect. In two of the three groups of people studied, in the United States and China, association with people of higher status actually led to a higher incidence of health problems, which surprised the researchers.
To explain this phenomenon, Song proposed a new theory, which she called the social cost theory. She argues that high socioeconomic status can lead to anxiety and feelings of failure as people begin to compare themselves to more successful acquaintances. This can lead to the development of bad habits and require extra effort, such as time, money, and energy, to maintain these high status relationships.
It is interesting to note that the research data varies from country to country, which is due to economic inequality in society. Taiwan has relatively low differences between people, which explains the positive effects of useful dating. At the same time, the situation in the U.S. and China is completely opposite.
Researchers have also pointed out that China and Taiwan are examples of collectivist societies, while the United States is an individualist society. This underscores the need for further research to understand the differences in societies and cultures.
Overall, this Vanderbilt University study reveals conflicting results about the impact of social status on health. It underscores the importance of considering economic inequality and cultural differences when examining this topic.