Dominance hierarchy

Dominance Hierarchy

Dominance hierarchy

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A dominance hierarchy (in humans: social hierarchy) is the organization of individuals in a group that occurs when competition for resources leads to aggression. Schjelderup-Ebbe, who studied the often-cited example of the pecking order in chickens, found that such social structures lead to more stable flocks with reduced aggression among individuals.

Dominance hierarchies can be despotic or linear. In a despotic hierarchy, only one individual is dominant, while the others are all equally submissive. In a linear hierarchy, for example, in the above cited pecking order of chickens, each individual dominates all individuals below him and not those above him.

Dominance hierarchies occur in most social animal species that normally live in groups, including primates. Dominance hierarchies have been extensively studied in fish, birds, and mammals. Dominance hierarchies can be simple linear structures, which often arise from the physical differences among individuals in a group in relation to their access to resources. They are also influenced by the complex social interactions among individuals in the group.

Mechanisms that regulate the formation of hierarchies in animals

The most basic interaction that establishes a Dominance Hierarchy is the dyad, or paired interaction among individuals. To study the formation of hierarchies, scientists have often used the dyadic method, in which two individuals are forced to interact isolated from others. All individuals in the group are...
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