Ordinary signaling is acting high-status to seem high-status.
Countersignaling is acting low-status to seem high-status.
I propose the term downsignaling for acting low-status to seem low-status.

At first glance, this might seem absurd: isn't the point of status that you always want more of it? Why would anyone intentionally lower their own status?

But, in practice, it tends to be the case that every position on the dominance ladder has certain advantages of its own. Animals adopt submission behaviors to avoid aggression from higher-ranking individuals. The "hands up" gesture of surrender displays one's lack of weapons, advertising physical vulnerability. Crying may be an offer of discount friendship.

For a more thorough example, let's consider Walmart. As a highly profitable megacorporation, they certainly have the funds to put on a more upscale look. It would be easily within their means to hire a team of graphic designers and interior designers to give their stores the classy, polished look of an Ikea.

But they don't. Not because they can't, or because they haven't thought of it (do you really believe they don't have strategy planning focus groups in their PR and advertising departments?), but because they mustn't.

Walmart's business model is based around cheap goods. That means that their core target audience is highly price-sensitive. Swanking the place up would suggest higher-quality products, but it would also suggest higher cost. If they gave off the impression that they were an upper-class store, then their lower-class customers would tend to assume "I can't afford a place like that" and go to K-mart.

Walmart is intentionally acting low-class, not as an ironic hipster countersignal, but as a sincere attempt to appear low-class. Their decor is saying, "Look how cheap we are! We're not too fancy. We're down here with you. We're within reach."

That's downsignaling.

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