Does owning a big house and supporting ‘correct’ social causes not just make you feel good about yourself but actually make you healthier and live longer? The answer is yes. This is just one of the fascinating findings that bestselling writer Will Storr shares when he came to Intelligence Squared in September 2021 to discuss the themes of his new book The Status Game. Storr argued that it is our irrepressible craving for status that ultimately defines who we are. As he puts it, ‘If you want to rule the world, save the world, buy the world or fuck the world, the best thing to pursue is status.’ And research shows that without sufficient status, we suffer more illness and live shorter lives.
Storr identified what he calls two ‘prestige games’ that humans play to acquire status: success games and virtue games. Success games are about having a fast car or winning a promotion. In the more complex virtue games, people compete for prestige through demonstrations of moral goodness, believing that they are motivated not by a desire for status, but by their superior goodness. This, Storr argued, can lead to pressure to hold ‘correct’ beliefs in order to maintain one’s social status.
Drawing from anthropology, sociology, and psychology, Storr examined the unconscious obsession that drives the best and worst of us: our innovations, our arts and our civilisation as well as our murders, wars and genocides. Join us for a sweeping rethink of human psychology that will change how you see others – and how you see yourself.
‘Bursting with insights into the hierarchy-crazed hellscape of a world shaped by social media, this book confirms Will Storr’s own status as a master storyteller.’ – Helen Lewis, author of Difficult Women
‘A paradigm shift in the way we think about everything from wokery to the alt right. One of those rare books that offers both conceptual clarity and real hope.’ – Brendan Cox, campaigner and activist
‘Thought provoking and enlightening – you’ll be discussing The Status Game everywhere you go,’ – Sara Pascoe, comedian and writer
Speakers subject to change.