Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Dominance Hierarchy

System in which an individual’s status confers privilege over other members within a community; the physical domination of some members of a group by other members in it is relatively orderly and exhibits long-lasting patterns. Except for the highest- and lowest-ranking individuals, every member dominates one or more of its companions and is, in turn, dominated by one or more of the others. Such a hierarchy is initiated and sustained by agonistic behavior, although such hostile behavior is sometimes of a subtle and indirect nature. Dominance status is often associated with size and sex.

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