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A dominance hierarchy is an organizational form by which individuals within a community control the distribution of resources (goods and services) within the community.

Dominance hierarchies occur in most social animal species, including primates who normally live in groups. Individuals with greater hierarchical status tend to displace those ranked lower from access to space, to food and to mating opportunities. Thus individuals with higher social status tend to have greater reproductive success by mating more often and having more resources to invest in the survival of offspring.

These hierarchies are not fixed and depend on any number of changing factors, among them are age, gender, body size, intelligence, and aggressiveness. Status may also be affected by the ability to marshal the support of others. Indeed, the need to maintain social position and social knowledge may be an impetus for the evolution of larger brains in humans.

Thus, dominance hierarchies can also be observed in human societies and are important phenomena to understand the organization of family, tribe or clan, work organizations, politics, etc. in normal and abnormal social situations. It is not clear how much of dominance hierarchy in humans is due to the intrinsic biology of our brains, derived from evolution, and how much is due to cultural factors.

See also

fr:Hiérarchie de dominance

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