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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores how dominance hierarchies develop their typical structures. It tackles a number of questions, for example: how is it that different groups develop the same kinds of hierarchy structures, even when the structures arise spontaneously, without being imposed by central authority; what mechanisms generate these hierarchy structures; or whether an understanding the development of hierarchies provides more general insight into the evolution of other kinds of social structures in small groups. The article first reviews theoretical models for the explanation of dominance relationships and dominance hierarchies (‘pecking orders’) in small groups of animals before considering hierarchies in small groups of humans. It then introduces an interaction-process model of animal hierarchies that explains linear hierarchy structures and avoids some of the limitations inherent in the earlier models. It concludes by comparing models for the development of status hierarchies in humans with those for animal hierarchies.

Keywords: dominance hierarchies, hierarchy structures, social structures, dominance relationships, animals, humans, interaction-process model, animal hierarchies, linear hierarchy, status hierarchies

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