▪ Abstract 

Dominance hierarchies exist in numerous social species, and rank in such hierarchies can dramatically influence the quality of an individual's life. Rank can dramatically influence also the health of an individual, particularly with respect to stress-related disease. This chapter reviews first the nature of stress, the stress-response and stress-related disease, as well as the varieties of hierarchical systems in animals. I then review the literature derived from nonhuman species concerning the connections between rank and functioning of the adrenocortical, cardiovascular, reproductive, and immune systems. As shown here, the relationship is anything but monolithic. Finally, I consider whether rank is a relevant concept in humans and argue that socioeconomic status (SES) is the nearest human approximation to social rank and that SES dramatically influences health.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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