Submissiveness

Submissive behavior can result from innate personality traits or from special circumstances in one's environment. "Evolutionary theory conceptualizes submissive behavior as a fear-based self-protective strategy when in a subordinate position," to prevent conflict with dominant individuals. Therefore, submissiveness is typically characterized by deferral to more dominant individuals. However, submissive behavior may also arise in situations where an individual purposely defers to others despite being in a position of power. Researchers have concluded “there may be two motivational states related to submissive behavior: the fear of harm to the self and the fear of harm to another."