The Business of Communication

Dario Maestripieri

in Macachiavellian Intelligence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780226501178
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226501215 | DOI:
The Business of Communication

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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All animal social life involves some sharing of space and coordination of activity among the individuals that are part of a group. There are many species of animals, however, from fishes to horses, in which individuals live in groups but, most of the time, just mind their own business. Rhesus macaques cannot afford to mind their own business. In the Machiavellian social arena, everything has a cost, and one has to engage in business transactions with other individuals to obtain anything from them. The business activity with which you get others to do or not to do things to you, for you, or with you is called communication. In the business of communication, the behavior of other individuals can be purchased with a currency called signals, and all payments are made up front. Communication works according to the same principles among humans, rhesus macaques, and all kinds of other animals. A form of communication is language, which is particularly good for exchanging information for other information. Rhesus macaques threaten others with the use of threats and bluffs.

Keywords: humans; rhesus macaques; communication; language; behavior; signals; threats; bluffs

Chapter.  9239 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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