Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Social Intelligence Hypothesis

Proposal by psychologists A. Whiten and R. W. Byrne that the primate brain, and consequently primate intelligence, evolved as adaptations to the requirement to operate in large groups where a detailed understanding of group members is a fundamental datum (tertiary relationships). In addition, the acquisition of complex social skills and strategies, including tactical deception, alliance formation, and the manipulation of other members of a group led, researchers speculate, to increased brain size and complexity in primates. Aka social brain hypothesis, Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis.

See Machiavellian intelligence and deceit.

Cf. cognitive ecology.

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