The Psychology of Ranking

The Psychology of Ranking

We are all affected by the psychology of ranking whether we realize it or not. Without a doubt, the psychology of ranking has a direct impact on our confidence, overall happiness, our general health and well-being.  


Picture this scenario.

There has been a major economic downturn in your industry. Recently, the company you have worked for and have been loyal to for many years has gone through a period of significant layoffs.


Oh, but you were one of the lucky ones. Thankfully, you’ve survived that mass purge and still have your job. Not only did you survive the purge, but your salary and compensation package has been unaltered. You appears you have been spared and are thus still highly valuable to the company.

However, in the process you have been relegated to a position you once had five years ago. Some of the young newbies who’ve only been with the company less than one year have been promoted to positions above yours.

You will not admit it, but you feel underappreciated and invalidated.

the psychology of ranking can leave you feeling underappreciated

However, you are not alone. Only one day earlier, several other former higher ranking members on your team were suddenly sucked into the deep abyss - falling hundreds positions in some cases..

After “the carnage” several stated they were still happy to keep their jobs despite the demotion and no longer cared about their status.

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the lure of the psychology of ranking

The Lure of the Psychology of Ranking

Perverse as this may appear, this is the psychology of ranking and how we are often subject to its lure. Whether we choose to admit it or not, severe drops or raises in stature within the hierarchy of a company have a powerful effect on our mood.

This is how staure affects the human brain. And this has nothing to do with how much money we are making either.

Proof of the matter has been revealed by recently demoted subjects I’ve interviewed who currently were still making the same amount of income, but felt an abject sense of loss and dissatisfaction.

Often such loss could be associated and compared with a death in the family.

how stature relates to activity

How Stature Relates to Our Activity

Ranking is a mental barometer of how well we are progressing, although in reality it often has very little correlation to how successful we are doing or how much money we are making in our own businesses or working for a company. It also unconsciously impacts who we follow and who we communicate actively with. Ranking certainly does have a powerful impact on who we are interacting with.

Whether deserved or undeserved, the demotion of individuals has a deep effect on their activity. I must admit that I’ve seen several former high ranking individuals whom I’ve previously communicated with on a regular basis staying on with the company after receiving a demotion suddenly disappear without a trace.


And this does not make the former high ranking individual or member any less an authority now than they were before the involuntary drop, however it makes them less visible and therefore not in "the front of our minds" on a daily basis as they were before.

I am seeing this happen in all industry, and I am sure this is not something we do consciously or intentionally.

the psychology of ranking phenomena

The Psychology of Ranking Phenomena

This phenomena of ranking psychology is very interesting.

Based on observation, former high ranking individuals and members often become less active answering questions and interacting with the social community. 

I have seen very clear evidence of this in many different fields. Perhaps it is the psychology of human nature for most people to become discouraged and retract on their activity when they receive a demotion of any kind, even if that demotion is only in the form of a number on a company leader board.

After all we are humans, and that demotion in any form can send a strong subliminal message to our brains that we are under appreciated, undervalued, and have been relegated to a subordinate role within a given hierarchy.

Feeling after a demotion

I’ve interviewed several individuals who fell under this category, and I heard direct comments such as,

"Why should I continue to help people if the company doesn't appreciate me?" I once heard a demoted employee say who worked so hard and productively for the company every single day. By similar comparison, I have heard several former high ranking members recently make such comments as,


"I helped so many people day and night in this company, and now I just don’t know how I feel so invalidated, so I have no motivation to help anymore."

“Now in a blink of an eye I lose all my effort. How can I put more effort into this now” There is never a guarantee. I also noted other good/top members have stopped answering questions, or answering very little questions.” 

Feeling invalidated

Yes, such sentiments are certainly a cause for major concern, I personally believe helping others should be an unconditional act and its own reward, but at the same time I can understand why some would lose motivation to help.

It would be naive at best to dismiss that a severe reduction in one's ranking in a company would not be construed as the psychological equivalent of under appreciation.

Salute those who stay optimistic

Let’s Salute Those Who Remain Optimistic

I truly salute the few who can remain positive and "see the forest from the trees" because ranking is only a virtual position on a leaderboard that is non-commensurable with one's true success.

However, let's also give greater understanding and not be so dismissive of the ones who are experiencing apathy and are finding it more difficult every day to remain motivated. And for those who have lost interest in helping.

Let's reach out to these long-standing members and long-standing employees and lend them an ear and helping hand. They need our help and support to get back to a winning mindset.

the psychology of ranking can bring out your winning mindset

For we are all humans, and none of us are exempt from the psychology of ranking.

Thank you for reading this post.


Note that the aforementioned material contained herein is based on my own objective observations of the human condition as I am commenting on what I see and how the human brain processes’ complex signals work and how such processes infer and relates to the input of complex information.

Please feel free to add your input to these thought processes.

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!

  • Kelyee says:

    I can relate to this to this post. I was let go many many moons ago due to a company “downsizing” back in 2002. I went on a strike and went on unemployment insurance for a year and a half.

    I worked so hard to be a good employee and yet I was let go because the new management couldn’t get his monthly quota.

    We go through all sorts of emotions especially money wise. Thanks for sharing. I really like your recommendation I hope that it will help others like it did you.

    • Kaju says:

      Thanks so much Kelly. I’m happy you have been able to take a break and read and comment some of my posts.
      Sorry that happened to you, this happens to many people. Still doesn’t take the sting away.

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