In this episode we welcome back author Will Storr whose new book, The Status Game, feels like required reading for anyone confused, curious, or worried about how politics, cults, conspiracy theories communities, social media, religious fundamentalism, polarization, and extremism are affecting us – everywhere, on and offline, across cultures, and across the world.
What is The Status Game? It’s our primate propensity to perpetually pursue points that will provide a higher level of regard among the people who can (if we provoked such a response) take those points away. And deeper still, it’s the propensity to, once we find a group of people who regularly give us those points, care about what they think more than just about anything else.
In the interview, we discuss our inescapable obsession with reputation and why we are deeply motivated to avoid losing this game through the fear of shame, ostracism, embarrassment, and humiliation while also deeply motivated to win this game by earning what will provide pride, fame, adoration, respect, and status.
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OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK
For centuries, philosophers and scholars have described human behaviour in terms of sex, power and money. In The Status Game, bestselling author Will Storr radically turns this thinking on its head by arguing that it is our irrepressible craving for status that ultimately defines who we are.
From the era of the hunter-gatherer to today, when we exist as workers in the globalised economy and citizens of online worlds, the need for status has always been wired into us. A wealth of research shows that how much of it we possess dramatically affects not only our happiness and wellbeing but also our physical health – and without sufficient status, we become more ill, and live shorter lives. It’s an unconscious obsession that drives the best and worst of us: our innovation, arts and civilisation as well as our murders, wars and genocides. But why is status such an all-consuming prize? What happens if it’s taken away from us? And how can our unquenchable thirst for it explain cults, moral panics, conspiracy theories, the rise of social media and the ‘culture wars’ of today?
On a breathtaking journey through time and culture, The Status Game offers a sweeping rethink of human psychology that will change how you see others – and how you see yourself.
Will Storr is an award-winning writer. He’s the author of six critically acclaimed books, including the novel The Hunger and The Howling of Killian Lone and the Sunday Times bestseller The Science of Storytelling. His journalism has appeared in titles such as The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The New Yorker and The New York Times. His prizes include a National Press Club award for excellence and the AFM award for Best Investigative Journalism. His work on sexual violence against men earned the Amnesty International Award and a One World Press Award. He’s also been presented with the AIB Award for Best Investigative Documentary for his BBC radio series.
He teaches popular storytelling classes in London and has been invited to present his Science of Storytelling workshop all over the world. He’s an in-demand ghostwriter whose books have spent months at the top of the Sunday Times bestseller chart and have sold more than two million copies.
Links and Sources
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