High status should lead the happiness, but many studies found only a weak tie between higher socioeconomic status and greater happiness.

If money does not buy happiness, what does? Having a higher standing on the local status hierarchy or “local ladder,” according to research led by Cameron Anderson of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

He and his colleagues looked at sociometric status, that is the respect and admiration people get from people in groups they interact with face-to-face, such as friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

In the first of four studies they collected information from 80 colleges students who belonged to a variety of college organizations from sororities to ROTC.

Sociometric status was based on self-reported standing, peer reports, and number of leadership positions the students held within their groups.

The researchers found that sociometric rather than socioeconomic standing predicted subjective well-being.

Further studies found that a sense or power and social acceptance explained the link between sociometric position and feelings of well-being and that sociometric status is fluid and reflects a person’s current position on the local ladder.