Research Article

The Elephant in the Room: Examining the Connections between Humility and Social Status


  • Barret Michalec Associate Professor,Director, Center for Advancing Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CAIPER); Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Nicole Piemonte Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Peekie Nash Carpenter Endowed Chair in Medicine, Assistant Professor, Medical Humanities, Creighton University School of Medicine, Phoenix Regional Campus, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • Frederic W. Hafferty Professor of Medical Education, Division of General Internal Medicine, Program for Professionalism & Values, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA


Humility is most frequently discussed as a socially-valuable trait, and being perceived as humble is generally considered beneficial.  Although there has been extensive scholarship expounding the concept of humility, previous work has yet to fully examine the role(s) of social status and stratification in regards to the perception of others’ humility and being humble.  In this sense, there is an elephant in the room that must be acknowledged in order to advance humility theory.  In this paper, we provide brief overviews of humility, social status and stratification, and utilize expectation states theory as a flashlight to explore the potential connections between humility and social status from a more sociological perspective. We then showcase where the “elephant” may be hiding in the humility literature (focusing specifically on race and gender), attempting to shed light on potential next steps for future research

Article information


Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies

Volume (Issue)

3 (4)





How to Cite

Michalec, B., Piemonte, N., & Hafferty, F. W. . (2021). The Elephant in the Room: Examining the Connections between Humility and Social Status. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies, 3(4), 72–79.



Humility, Status, Race, Gender, Expectation States Theory