Real and apparent social hierarchies

The idea is that we get a useful classification of behavioral patterns in primates when we observe what happens when a group gets attacked. For each individual, we will observe some combination of three possible impulses:

  1. Seek to protect other members of the group
  2. Seek protection from other members of the group
  3. Engage in a fight with the attackers
  4. Hide from the attackers

Points 1-4 can be carried out individually, or in cooperation. We could devise a scoring system that assigns points to individuals based on the relevance of their behaviour for group survival. For example, successfully (= dominantly) cooperating at (1) receives more points than hiding on your own. A desperate solitary kamikaze (3) will be valued less than successfully (=dominantly) organizing (2). After a few attacks the assigned points are evaluated and we have an indication of the “deeper” social hierarchy. It would be interesting to see if and to what extend this hierarchy differs from the one we observe using the traditional criteria (access to females and resources, winning fights)

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