By James Silverberg, J. Patrick Gray
This ebook explores the position of aggression in primate social structures and its implications for human habit.
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Additional resources for Aggression and Peacefulness in Humans and Other Primates
Birds peck one another . . in a "triangle": a pecks b, b pecks c, and c again pecks a. [Perhaps] strength has given a despotism over b, courage has made b despot over c, and circumstances have caused c to become despot over a (Schjelderup-Ebbe 1935:952-953). His admonitions about the single-determinant fallacy and the frequency of triangles (Sade's "cycles," Chapter 3) have often been ignored, as mass media popularizers and some scientific ethologists resonated back and forth to stereotype the dominance hierarchy as linear (transitive), rigid and based essentially on fighting ability.
We need long-term studies in the type of societies traditionally studied by anthropologists. However, studies using a dominance matrix format are usually conducted in industrial societies which frequently lack the long-term stability of social relationships characteristic of many preindustrial societies. Strayer (Chapter 7) reports evidence of dominance as an important aspect of peer group relations from early childhood to adolescence. In most industrial societies the children from whom a child first learns about dominance are often not the peers he or she confronts two or three years later.
We have noted how the scientific study of violence and peacefulness—as also the political debate over their role in human life—is bedeviled by the different and overlapping definitions of principal concepts. We have tried to clarify the terminology by distinguishing behavioral acts from behavioral styles and specifying a relationship between the two. Thus, many terms help to identify different acts as score points along a violence scale. This scale ranges in its peaceful sector from anti-violent behavior, notably affiliative acts and perhaps conciliatory acts, through nonviolent behavior such as withdrawal, retreat, deference, submission, displacement, supplant, and on toward the violent behavior sector of the scale with acts such as threat displays, lunges, chases, and outright violence.
Aggression and Peacefulness in Humans and Other Primates by James Silverberg, J. Patrick Gray