What Are Some of the Ways That Ascribed Status Can Influence Achieved Status?

Ascribed status can influence an individual’s achieved status by promoting a self-fulfilling prophecy, affecting self-esteem or by limiting or increasing beneficial social connections. Ascribed status, such as gender, race, age or the economic strata an individual is born into, can cause other people and institutions to harbor preconceived expectations of the individual. The expectations of others, if they take the form of negative biases, can be internalized by an individual who has a lower ascribed status in the social hierarchy and create unreasonably low self-expectations which can limit their ability to improve their achieved status.

Achieved status is earned based on merit and the result of effort. Ascribed status is instead involuntary and assigned at birth. False and preconceived assumptions regarding performance outcomes based on an ascribed status such as race or gender can result in the assumption becoming true because of a belief in its prediction. This is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy and represents the relationship between a preexisting belief, which is based on its association with an ascribed status, and an individual possessing the ascribed status conforming to that belief. A self-fulfilling prophecy can be either positive or negative and reflects the influence that an ascribed status can have on an individual’s achieved status.

There can be a direct correlation between an individual’s self-esteem and their ascribed status. Individuals comparing themselves to others who possess a higher ascribed status can develop an unrealistically low sense of self-esteem that is not based on their actual capabilities. The ranking of an ascribed status in a social hierarchy is determined by the dominant groups and can become a means of perpetuating racial, gender or economic biases.