Elsevier LogoPeople place a lot of importance to their social status. Generally, individuals have observed the advantages that accumulate with social status mainly from the viewpoint of external rewards. But a new research claims otherwise, proposing that there seem to be other internal rewards as well.

The scientists appear to have discovered that augmented social status and raised social support supposedly interrelates with the thickness of dopamine D2/D3 receptors in the striatum. This is an area of the brain that appears to play an essential function in reward and inspiration, where dopamine could play a significant role in both of these behavioral processes.

The scientists observed how the social status and social support in standard healthy participants who were screened by means of positron emission tomography (PET), a technology that enabled them to picture dopamine type 2 receptors in the brain. This data is said to propose that individuals who attain bigger social status may have more chances to experience life as worthwhile and interesting since they appear to have more targets for dopamine to execute in the striatum.

Dr. Martinez, one of the authors in the research, commented, “We showed that low levels of dopamine receptors were associated with low social status and that high levels of dopamine receptors were associated with higher social status. The same type of association was seen with the volunteer’s reports of social support they experience from their friends, family, or significant other.”

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, mentioned, “These data shed interesting light into the drive to achieve social status, a basic social process. It would make sense that people who had higher levels of D2 receptors, i.e., were more highly motivated and engaged by social situations, would be high achievers and would have higher levels of social support.”

This information could also have connotations for comprehending the susceptibility to alcohol and substance abuse. The research of Dr. Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and colleagues seems to propose that low levels of D2/D3 receptors may add to the danger for alcoholism amid people with family members who abuse alcohol.

The present data apparently recommends that susceptible people having low D2/D3 receptors could be susceptible to lower social status and social supports. These social issues have formerly been proposed as contributors to the threat for alcohol and substance use.

The research appeared in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier.