In this week's Economist magazine, it was reported that a study on the social behavior of monkeys found that there is a strong link between the rank of a monkey in a social circle and a monkey's level of risk for falling ill to disease. Basically, the lower a monkey's status, the higher the chance a monkey will experience stress, have an immune system breakdown, contract heart trouble, Alzheimer's and more.
"A group of researchers at the University of Chicago looked at the effects of status on rhesus macaques. The high risk of disease among those at the bottom of the heap in both cases suggests that biochemical responses to low status affect a creature's immune system. Those responses must, in turn, depend on changes in the way the creatures' genes are expressed."
To investigate this phenomenon, the researchers manipulated the hierarchies of female macaques. The results were fairly astounding. "Given a blood sample and no other information, it was possible to predict an individual's status within her group with an accuracy of 80%."
The silver lining of the study is that the negative philological effects of being a lowly monkey can be reversed with social promotion - which explains a lot about why MDs have that smile on their face. The implications for the common analyst are pretty clear: grind hard and that burning sensation in your liver might one day subside and be replaced by a shining confidence and high spirited contempt for those below you.
This post also makes me wonder about the effects of relative status vs. your broader peers. Would attending a lower ranked school and/or working a less regarded bank also have an impact on your health?