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Dominance hierarchies reliably form in face-to-face groupings of all primate species, including humans. Their defining feature is that higher ranked individuals have more influence, power, and valued prerogatives than those of lower rank.

To avoid an overly simple picture, several qualifications are needed: Rank may be persistently relevant among primates in permanent groups or only occasionally relevant for animals that forage alone; rankings are usually but not necessarily transitive; the relative status of two individuals may depend, in part, on the proximity of allies; sometimes, the highest ranking position is shared by a coalition of two or three individuals; and it is often easier to identify a male ranking than a female ranking.

Often social psychologists speak about small-group status hierarchies in specifically human terms, ignoring their ...

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