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The Triadic Nature of Primate Social Relationships
 
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Code: DJ 4.1 (1) de Waal and Embree
Price: $9.50
 
 
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Frans de Waal, PhD and Molly Embree

A review of current literature on coalitions and alliances among primates indicates that primates may understand social relationships within their groups at a higher level of sophistication than most other mammals. Apparently of critical importance to primates' social complexity is triadic awareness, a term from biology which refers to the ability to understand relationships of others independently of one's own involvement. This ability to recognize relationships among multiple items (whether individuals or objects) in the environment may lie at the heart of primates' success using tools to achieve a physical goal (that is, obtaining termites from inside a mound) or using coalitions and alliances to achieve social goals (that is, secure the alpha position with the support of another). Though humans have developed this "triangulating" capacity to an extreme, expanding research on primate species shows this ability to be characteristic of the primate order rather than a human invention.


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