Study of Baboons Shows Having High Social Status Boosts Your Immune System
It turns out that social climbing has real, physical rewards. According to a study – of baboons – higher ranking individuals recovered quickest from injury and disease.
While the study was of baboons, a previous study involving 10,000 Whitehall civil servants found that high-flyers were much less likely to suffer heart disease, bronchitis or depression than their more lowly counterparts.
Recent findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that social status can boost immune function and health in humans and animals; however the mechanism is a mystery, reports the Daily Mail.
Researchers analyzed 27 years of data of naturally occurring illnesses and injuries at a baboon sanctuary in Amboseli in Kenya and found high rank was linked with better healing.
Zoologist Dr George Gilchrist, of the US government’s National Science Foundation (NSF) which funded the research, said: ‘The power of this study is in identifying the biological mechanisms that may confer health benefits to high-ranking members of society.
‘We know humans have such benefits but it took meticulous long-term research on baboon society to tease out the specific mechanisms.
‘The question remains of causation: is one a society leader because of stronger immune function or vice versa?’
Thus, it remains unclear if social rank determines health or if health determines social rank.