Social Psychology

Chapter 7: The Nature and Development of Social Behavior

Floyd Henry Allport

Table of Contents | Next | Previous

Definition and Classification. In the first part of this book an account was given of the structures, reflexes, emotions, habits, and traits which are fundamental in the behavior of each individual as a unit of society. We have seen that in the formation and direction of these behavior mechanisms the social environment has been one of the most essential conditions. We are now to turn from the genetic consideration of human nature to the process of interaction between individuals. Instead of the establishing of individual traits through the effects of stimulus and response, we shall study the stimuli and responses themselves in so far as they arise within the sphere of social contact. We may begin most appropriately with the social behavior observed among animals, for it is from the origin and development of social life among the lower orders that a fuller understanding of the human aspect may be gained. A logical procedure would then be to complete the developmental study with the social behavior of infants and children. For convenience, however, and for better understanding of the adult phase, we shall divide this latter genetic material among subsequent chapters on language, facial expression, and social adjustments within the family. Before proceeding with the evolutional development, it will be profitable to define social behavior and to make some attempt at the classification of its various forms.

Behavior, as defined in the second chapter, is the process of responding to a stimulus by an activity that is normally useful to life. Stimuli may be divided into two classes, social and non-social. A social stimulus is any movement, expression, gesture, or sound —  in short, any reaction, made by an animal (human or infra-human)

(148) — which produces a response in another. We should perhaps extend this definition to allow for the fact that the mere presence of an individual under certain circumstances may serve as a social stimulus. As a rule the individual whose behavior affords the stimulus and the individual who responds belong to the same species. There are many exceptions, however, such as the cat which reacts to the movements of a mouse by crouching and stalking, or the man who understands and responds to the barking of his dog or the nervousness of his horse. Stimuli which are not produced by the presence or the actions of individuals are termed `non-social.'

Social stimuli involve behavior in two ways. (1) They are in themselves usually responses to stimuli either social or non-social in character. (2) They produce responses in others. For example, a barefooted child steps on a nail and sets up a cry of pain which evokes tender emotion and acts of ministration in a parent. The cry of pain (the social stimulus), which produces response in another person (the parent), is itself a response to a receding non-social stimulus (the nail). Social behavior may, therefore, be defined as behavior in which the responses either serve as social stimuli or are evoked by social stimuli. We shall discuss separately the nature of social stimuli and the responses to them in the chapters which follow.

The particular character of social behavior is determined by a number of circumstances. Among these are (1) the grouping or placing of the individuals, and the number and direction of the social stimuli; (2) the relative significance of social and non-social objects in the general field of stimulation; and (3) the degree of intelligence and ability to communicate possessed by the individuals of the group. Upon the last-named condition depends the value of social behavior as a means of biological adjustment. These three aspects, to be discussed in order, will serve as a convenient classification.

Linear and Circular Social Behavior. When individuals respond to one another in a direct, face-to-face manner, a social stimulus, given, for example, by the behavior of individual A, is likely to evoke from individual B a response which serves in turn as a stimulus to A causing him to react further. The direction of the stimuli

(149) and of their effects is thus circular, the responses of each person being reevoked or increased by the reactions which his own responses called forth from others. Ordinary conversation illustrates this form of contact, each party thereto being stimulated to utterance by the response which his former remark has aroused in his interlocutor. The genial optimist who finds human nature so desirable is responding principally to the pleasant expressions which his smile elicits from the faces about him. There is circularity also in hostile behavior. The provoking of either a dog fight or a human quarrel generally involves a mutual responsibility among its participants. Growls and threats are bandied back and forth, each one both a response to being growled at and a stimulus for a louder snarl from the other. This succession of reactions Professor Mead [1] has aptly termed a "conversation of attitudes." [2]

Figure 11 Diagram of Linear Social BehaviorIn situations which call for a mere transmission of stimuli, and where the effects are in one direction rather than back and forth, we find a simpler type of social behavior which we may describe as linear. The stalking of game illustrates a short linear series, the actions of the prey producing responses in the hunter. It is the aim, however, of the latter to prevent his responses from acting in turn as stimuli upon the quarry. Stealth and concealment prevent the circular reaction and diminish the likelihood of escape. The transmission of orders in an army is an instance of purely linear behavior. Here the conditions of organization require that the social stimuli (that is, the language of the orders) pass always in the direction of General to Corporal, and never in the reverse direction. The handing down of social tradition from generation to genera-

(150) -tion may be regarded in a broad sense as a form of linear social behavior.

Figure 12. Diagram of Circular Social BehaviorThese two types, the linear and circular, are illustrated in Figures 11 and 12 respectively. The neuro-muscular apparatus of two individuals, I1 and I2, are represented simply by a receptor, afferent and efferent neurons, and an effector (the association neurons being omitted). The receptor of each individual is denoted by r. The muscle labeled Rsp. I1stands for the total overt response of Individual 1; Rsp. I2 denotes the total overt response of Individual 2. In Figure 11 the response of the first individual serves as a stimulus to the second, as indicated by the arrow. In Figure 12 the response of each serves as a stimulus to the other. In Figure 11 the number of individuals in the series might be extended indefinitely.

Direct and Contributory Social Stimuli. The second question in the classification of social behavior concerns the part which social objects play in the total stimulation of the moment. If a social stimulus holds the focus of attention and maintains exclusive control of the final common paths of response, we may speak of it as a direct stimulus. The reaction follows directly from the nature of the stimulating object. It is not modified by any other object. The advice of our lawyer or physician in matters important to our welfare is likely to have the value of a direct social stimulus. The concentration of the hypnotist's subject upon the suggestions of the hypnotizer is an example par excellence of the direct relation. Direct social stimuli are very common in both linear and circular behavior. Of the examples cited in the preceding section the transmission of orders illustrates the first possibility, and conversation the second. Almost all of the more common and conscious

(151) social influences are exerted through direct stimulation dominating exclusively the response mechanism of the individual.

Figure 13 Diagram of Contributory Social Stimulation in Linear Social BehaviorThere are many situations, however, in which the social environment affords only a part of the group of objects which are acting as combined stimuli. The principle of allied and antagonistic reflexes (p. 37) gives the neural foundation for this sort of reaction. The response is called forth and controlled mainly by a stimulus which may be non-social in character. The social stimuli present in the environment at that moment serve only to modify, redirect, augment, or diminish this response. They may be said to be contributory to the main, or direct, stimulus. When we satisfy our keen hunger by a meal in solitude, we are reacting to a simple non-social stimulus, the food. When eating at a dinner party, the presence and behavior of the other guests are contributory social stimuli which modify our somewhat primitive and hungry attack upon the meal. Observations of crowds afford the best examples of this situation. In the attack of a mob of revolutionists upon a flag, or the looting of a store by a crowd, the principal object (the flag or store) is non-social. Its stimulating effect upon each individual is, however, great augmented by a large number of contributory social stimuli sue as the cries, facial expressions, and movements of the other participants. In many crowds these social stimuli are contributory to another social stimulus of direct character, namely, the voice and gestures of the crowd leader. Direct and contributory stimulation from human beings are conjoined in a similar manner in many situations of life. Direct social stimuli in both linear and circular behavior may be adequately represented by the diagrams of Figures 11 and 12. Contributory stimulation of the linear type is suggested in Figure 13, in which the response of the second individual to the direct

(152) non-social stimulus, F, is modified by contributory stimulation from the responses of the first individual.

Figure 4  Diagram of Contributory Social Stimulation in Circular Social BehaviorContributory stimulation in circular behavior is well illustrated by the crowd situation. Let us imagine a panic due to a fire in a theater. For simplicity we may consider only two individuals of the crowd, 1, and 12. Both these persons run away from the fire; but 12 sees 1, running, and this increases his own running response. I,, in turn, sees I2run, a fact which has a similar effect in speeding up the running of I,. The increase in speed which I, received from seeing I, run (over that due solely to the fire) thus makes the running of I, a stronger agent in restimulating 12. 12 is thus stimulated: first, by the fire (direct and non-social stimulus); secondly, by seeing I, run from the fire (contributory social stimulus); and, thirdly, by seeing I, run faster because he (I2) also is running (circular operation of contributory- stimulation). A similar effect is produced upon I,.

Figure 14 suggests schematically this situation. The direct, non-social stimulus, the fire, is denoted by F. Arrows, in unbroken lines, show that it directly stimulates the receptors (r) of I, and 12, evoking the responses, Rsp. I, and Rsp. 12 respectively. These responses now act as contributory stimuli (see dotted-line arrows) by which I, and 12 stimulate each other in conjunction with the direct stimulation F, and intensify each other's responses in the manner described above. A fuller exposition of behavior in crowds will be given in a subsequent chapter.


Controlling and Self-Adapting Social Behavior. There remains the third point of view in our classification, namely, that of phylogenetic development. Among the invertebrates and many of the lower vertebrates the creatures who produce sounds or movements which serve as stimuli to other animals are not aware of the stimulating effect of these responses. Actions such as the gnashing of teeth, and the ejaculations accompanying the sight of food and sex objects, and other emotional situations are purely incidental. They belong to the total reaction which the creature would make to the same situation in solitude. By the process of conditioned response, other individuals learn to associate these reactions with the important events which they accompany. They therefore acquire value as social stimuli for those that hear and see them long before they have any social significance for the individuals who produce them. Intercommunication is thus in a 'half way' stage of development. At this stage each individual limits his social adjustment merely to adapting himself to the social environment by learning how to respond to the various stimulations which that environment affords.[3]

But in the course of evolution a stage of adaptability is reached in which the organism is able to profit by the effects produced upon others by his own behavior. Suppose, for example, that a certain monkey has food, and that another monkey in the same cage, who is hungry, has none. A definite problem faces the second monkey —  how to satisfy the prepotent hunger reflexes. In accordance with trial and error he tries every method known to him. He may attempt to take the food either by force or by stealth; he may attack the monkey in possession of it; or he may threaten him with loud chattering and a show of teeth. If the last method is the successful one — that is, if it causes the other to drop the food and run —  it will be readily 'fixated' as the social stimulus to be produced in situations demanding the control of the food and the behavior of others. The value of social stimuli for life adjustments is thus learned by the individual who makes them. The control of

(154) the social environment in this example probably rests upon the conditioning of the prepotent withdrawal reflex (and flight habits) in the one to be controlled by the terrifying behavior of the individual exercising the control. The first animal has learned that such social stimuli mean danger; therefore he withdraws when he sees them.

Among both mankind and the lower animals it is generally the stronger individuals who are the best able to control others through their behavior. The weaker and the less attractive must be content with the subordinate role of adapting themselves to social conditions which they are powerless to alter. In evolutional development the highest point of controlling social behavior has been reached by man in the perfected communication made possible by language.

For a more complete account of the development through self-adapting to controlling social behavior, we must turn to specific examples selected from various levels of the animal kingdom.


The Lower Forms of Life. Adjustments based on Difference of Structure. Only in the most general sense can the behavior of the more primitive forms of life be described as social. There is no true response to stimulation from the activity of individuals, but only to the morphological characteristics by which different species satisfy or supplement one another's vital needs. Parasites of the protozoan and worm phyla find that the body of their host provides a supply of nourishment for themselves and their progeny. 'Symbiosis' is the term given to a form of association in which the advantage to the participants is mutual. Certain bacteria which thrive on the roots of plants render the latter valuable service because of their ability to extract needed elements from the soil. The convolute, a marine worm, harbors a symbiotic alga (plant) which is essential to its own metabolism. A somewhat more highly evolved relationship exists between detached organisms, the development of whose structures has been determined by their mutual service. The insect, for example, has receptors which are stimulated by the color and odor of the flower. He has also a long

(155) tongue capable of reaching the boney in the flower's corolla and so obtaining his nourishment. His back and legs are adapted for carrying pollen, thus enabling the plant to reproduce. This adaptation of structure to the social environment is often a means of sharing the food supply of another animal, a relationship known as 'commensalism. Certain species of small fish obtain transportation to food supplies by attaching themselves with sucker-like proboscis to larger fishes. The domestication of animals by man may be regarded as a kind of commensalism in which the structure of one commensal has been somewhat modified by artificial selection and his habits rendered serviceable to the other by training.

Insects and Allied Forms. The insect group combines the primitive response to morphological characteristics with true social behavior. Differences of structure exist among the members of a single colony or species (polymorphism). Among the ants there are the queens, or fertile females, the workers who are sterile females, and the fighters, ants equipped with powerful jaws. There are also smaller insects, called aphids, which are protected in the colony for the nutritive secretion which they provide as food for the ants. Each of these different genders or types assumes a share of the total work of the colony. Each is also reacted to in a characteristic manner by the others. The queen is protected and sheltered, the aphids are touched upon the antennae to make them disgorge their secretion, and the larvae are carried and deposited where they can obtain food. A similar division of labor and difference of treatment are found among the queens, drones, and workers of a hive of bees.

But insects also respond to the presence and behavior of one another in a manner not determined by polymorphism. Social stimuli are received through at least four different senses, namely, smell, touch, vision, and hearing. Ants recognize their nest mates by their particular odor, and attack intruders who emit a different odor. They also follow the trail of leaders to a food supply by the use of the same sense. Moths in particular make use of the sense of smell in the recognition of sex, the male being able to scent the location of the female at a great distance. Touch is used for social stimulation in the stroking of the aphids by the feelers of the ants.

(156) This is one of the most primitive instances of controlling social behavior in the animal kingdom. At times there spreads rapidly through the colony a wave of excitement, large numbers of individuals falling upon a group of intruders who are no longer tolerated in the nest, rushing out to battle with an invading horde, or going out to bring in food. It is believed that this spread of stimulation is brought about by the strokes of the feelers; and some observers have alleged a kind of language of minute taps indicating different situations such as food and danger. This mass phenomenon seems analogous to the spread of excitement in a human crowd. There is a multiplicity of contributory stimuli having perhaps a circular effect within the group. Communication, however, is probably that of the 'halfway' or self-adapting type, rather than that of social control which the use of true language makes possible.

Visual and auditory social stimuli are no doubt important in insect communities, though they are at present little understood. On certain occasions, such as the death of the queen bee, an agitated humming spreads throughout the hive. The chirping of crickets is believed to afford a means of sex recognition among those insects. The hunting activities of other members of the arthropod group prove clearly the value of sight in responding to behavior stimuli. The hermit crab has been observed in the act of stalking a sand-flea, dropping down quickly whenever the prey showed uneasiness, and creeping closer when opportunity offered itself.

A particular contrast in behavior, namely, that between the active and passive, is the source of many important responses of animals. Among minute forms of crustaceans (crablike animals), such as the amphipods, as well as among higher animals, this contrast is the basis of sex recognition. Male amphipods instinctively seize and carry about the females, who in turn roll up and become passive burdens. If two males collide they try to carry each other, and resistance is offered by each. If two females meet, both fall into the passive attitude for a time. The sexes do not recognize each other either by sight or by odor, but only by the characteristic behavior `felt' when two accidentally collide. Males which have been mutilated by the experimenter so that they become

(157) relatively inactive are seized and carried about like females when encountered by active males.

Vertebrates. The insect group and the higher vertebrates, such as birds and mammals, each have a form of community life which favors the development of an intricate social behavior. The former group forms cooperating hives or colonies, and the latter live in true families. The less gregarious lower vertebrates have little occasion for the development of social contacts. Fish recognize the opposite sex by sight or by behavior, or else by a combination of both methods. They seize smaller members of the same class as prey and avoid the larger individuals. The strong clasping reaction of the male frog succeeds in getting for its object a female, though the exact basis of the discrimination is not known. Frogs, though possessing a sense of hearing, appear indifferent to most sounds. The croaking of their own kind is probably, however, an important stimulus in connection with breeding activities.

In marked contrast with these lower forms is the richness of the social life of birds and mammals. Dogs and cats are quick to detect the meaning of expressions and attitudes either in their own species or in human beings to whom they are accustomed. Curiosity and fear are readily aroused in the finer breeds of these animals by similar behavior of their human associates. There should be mentioned also the high social adaptability of animals shown in the extent to which they may be trained by man. The response to social stimulus marks a distinct progress in educability supplementing the use of punishment and reward. Trained horses such as Clever Hans have learned to tap the correct answer to amazingly difficult problems of arithmetic, not, as alleged, by calculation, but by detecting the small and entirely unconscious movements of the observers when the correct number was reached. These social stimuli were so minute that for some time they entirely escaped the notice of investigators. Widespread effects of multiplied stimulations which are probably also circular are well known in groups of higher vertebrates. Herds are easily thrown into a panic when a few of the members become alarmed. The safety of a flock of wild birds depends upon the same susceptibility to the social influences. Where birds are confined together, any alarm, such as the

(158) flapping of wings at night, spreads quickly throughout the entire enclosure.

The higher vertebrates are not only skillful in adapting themselves to a variety of social stimuli, but many of them have learned the use of their own behavior as a means of control of others. Dr. Craig describes the fighting of many animals as a kind of ceremonial which precedes and often obviates a more serious conflict. By blustering and assuming a warning attitude the opponent is frequently driven away without the necessity for doing him injury. Birds and mammals frighten away intruders by making feints, ruffling the fur or feathers, hissing, growling, and roaring. It is probable that originally the actual attack was made, and that animals then rapidly learned to react to the hostile display which just preceded the attack as a conditioning stimulus, withdrawing from the sight of the claws and teeth as they would from the actual injury inflicted by them. Finally the animals who attacked learned that an actual assault was unnecessary, since the mere show of fighting sufficed to repel the antagonist. As we have seen in Chapter III, the law which governs the learning process is that of the fixation of the most economical method of satisfying the prepotent demand. Hence the actual duel, destructive to both contestants, is replaced wherever possible among animals by domination through social stimulus.

Play attitudes are based upon the same principle. Control by threatening attitude and gesture, by swaggering, and by exhibition of power is the theme of many play attitudes both animal and human. The 'bowing and scraping' of dogs in a ceremonious play fight suggest the effort to overcome the enemy by a stealthy feint. Feigning is, indeed, a means of social control remarkably developed among animals, and far exceeding as an indication of intelligence their ability to control the non-social environment. A small female kitten is reported, on good authority, to have played the following trick on her brother who lay stretched out asleep on the floor. Beginning at the brother's tail she began gently licking his fur in an ingratiating manner, working gradually up toward his head. When she had reached his neck she gave a spring and sunk her teeth into his ear causing him to give a tremendous leap and a cry of pain.

(159) Unlike the control exerted through a threatening attitude, the feigning method requires the use of decoy behavior entirely different in character from the hostile intent beneath. In terms of human experience this form of control is based upon an understanding of the psychology of the one to be controlled. The understanding, however, was probably acquired, like the use of the fighting ceremonial, through the trial-and-error method of learning. It is an evidence of a more perfect social adaptability and a higher stage in the learning process.

So-called death-feigning appears to be nearer to the level of innate reflexes than that of advanced learning. Such behavior is probably purely instinctive, and the animal cannot be said actually to 'feign' in a human sense. Insects and crustacea furnish many examples of rigidity and apparent lifelessness upon being molested. Birds and mammals make similar responses. The form of control exercised by this behavior is not always clear. Its significance as a social stimulus may be accepted in some cases only in a negative sense. By immobility the animal avoids giving any stimulus at all, and thus escapes becoming the prey of a larger animal. In other cases, for example among monkeys, the attack of a more powerful animal is often successfully countered by assuming a lifeless attitude which suggests the passivity of the female. Submission, whether it produces a sexual reaction or not, is apparently an important means of escaping injury through pacification of the enemy.

There are two groups of higher vertebrates whose behavior among their own species has been sufficiently studied to deserve special consideration. They are the pigeons and the sub-human primates.

The Social Behavior of Pigeons. It is well known that pigeons are quick to respond to one another's attitudes. A single boy with a bag of corn in almost any public park can draw a great flock from all directions in less than three minutes. The behavior of other pigeons, rather than the actual sight of the food, is without doubt the initial stimulus operative upon a large number of the birds, Although pigeons do not distinguish one sex from the other by sight, they soon learn to recognize particular birds. After four

(160) weeks of life a pigeon will behave in a friendly manner toward individuals brought up with it, but will regard others with fear or distrust. A pigeon recognizes its particular mate among others of the same sex, and cooperates with the mate in driving out intruders from the nest.

Sex recognition occurs among pigeons only through behavior, An unmated ring dove, for example, when it meets a strange dove becomes excited, charges up and down bowing and cooing, and behaves aggressively toward the other bird. If the latter is a male, he behaves in the same way, and a fight is likely to ensue. If the other is a female in season for mating, she coos seductively and assumes a submissive attitude toward the male. In the absence of true mates a male in season will sometimes attempt to carry on the breeding cycle with a less aggressive male; or a female will play the passive role with a stronger and more active female. Here, as in the case of immature human beings, homosexuality is merely an approximate and imperfect adjustment of the internally stimulated reflexes of sex.

The aggressive behavior of the male dove is a kind of control which causes the strange bird to react in a manner which reveals its sex. Submissive behavior also, as noted in an earlier paragraph, has a certain power in determining the responses of the more powerful. A pigeon will sometimes attempt to maintain a desirable position on the perch by force, but that method failing or incurring retaliation, will fondle the rival and attempt to beguile him with wiles of a female character. It thus follows that the extremes both of ascendance and submissiveness have their value in the adjustment to the social environment. Creatures thus tend as rapidly as practicable to assume either the active or the passive role. We may call this fact the law of polarity in social contact. It was recognized in the chapter on traits of personality, and it will have a place in later discussions. Among pigeons the law is demonstrated by the fact that a bird, if attacked at bay, will either offer resistance of the most desperate character, or, if overpowered, will submit and allow itself to be maltreated mercilessly.

The Social Behavior of Apes and Monkeys. Gorillas and chimpanzees in captivity show an extraordinary ability to interpret and

(161) respond to the words and facial expressions of human beings. They are apt in interpreting motives and judging character. Their ability to play tricks upon one another and to take advantage of an opportunity to gain their ends by stealth are well known. Gestures are well developed among the anthropoids. Chimpanzees express refusal, or enmity, like human beings by pushing the hand from the body outward toward the object. Acceptance is denoted by holding out the hand extended toward the object. These movements probably fall in the class of controlling behavior. They are merely abridgments of the acts of rejecting and taking, and come into use just as the fighting ceremonial which is really an abbreviated form of attack. The human infant controls his social environment by precisely the same gestures.[4] Mr. Garner, an intimate student of apes in their natural habitat, believes that they have a language consisting of about twelve sounds, which they use to indicate definite situations such as danger, food, sex play, water, moving object, and others. These sounds, however, are more likely to be mere ejaculations forming a part of the total visceral and somatic response to the object. While their meaning is known and responded to by the apes which hear them, they are probably for the most part without social significance to the individual who utters them. An important exception must be made in regard to the sounds of wooing or invitation to sex play. In cases where an individual requires a certain form of behavior from others as a satisfaction of his needs, a word denoting the activity in question is likely to come into use; and to that extent language passes from the 'halfway,' self-adapting stage to its true development as an agency for social control. Dr. Kempf and others have reported definite sex ‘words' in use by monkeys. Sometimes the sound is like that of smacking the lips. Another variety is a gentle ‘ee-ah.' The vocal stimulus is generally accompanied by the assumption of a posture inviting the sexual union.

This method of controlling the behavior of other monkeys is so remarkably effective that it is used not only to obtain sexual

(162) gratification, but to achieve various other ends. A smaller monkey of either sex in possession of food, if approached by a stronger individual who desires the food, will sometimes make the sex sounds and assume an inviting posture. This behavior appeals to the other in a sexual way and makes him forget the food, which is retained and eaten by the weaker. Sex decoys of the same sort are used to obtain leniency or protection when chased or bullied by larger monkeys. A kind of death-feigning reaction also is used by monkeys as a means of obtaining immunity from attack. They either assume a catatonic rigidity or a passive attitude in which the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed. The latter form resembles the cerea flexibilitas of certain human psychopaths.

It will be seen that the control exercised by the weaker individuals generally follows the principle of appealing to a different desire of simian nature as a ruse. An approaching response is evoked from the stronger monkey, and his behavior is turned in another direction. The weaker monkey, so to speak, 'changes the subject. The domination exerted by the more powerful, on the other hand, is direct and aggressive. It is based upon the arousal of withdrawing reactions in the controlled ones. A number of monkeys in a cage were observed as to their behavior when fed. The stronger individuals usually seized the food and began eating it. If the weaker ones attempted to get the food or approached too near, they were severely punished and chased into a corner where they nursed their wounds with their backs turned to their superiors. This posture was indicative of entire subjection and absence of predatory intent. Originally established as a conditioned withdrawing response, it came to be exacted of all the smaller monkeys on pain of injury as soon as food was thrown into the cage. Punishment in advance is indeed a novel and effective form of social control.

A rare instance of intelligence in exploiting the mental characteristics of another for personal gain is reported by Dr. Kempf from the same group of monkeys. Monkey D, a timid though not very intelligent monkey, was eating some food desired by monkey E. When approached by the latter, D would become suspicious and run to another part of the cage. E then began to simulate indif-

(163) -ference, and to scratch about in the sawdust apparently searching for food of his own. At the same time he glanced cautiously back over his shoulder, and worked his way casually backward as he searched until within grasping range of D's morsel. He then turned, shot out the arm nearest D, and snatched the prize. Other monkeys speedily learned to respond to E's strategic behavior; but D, who was evidently a socially stupid monkey, never made the adjustment.

Living in an environment of their fellows, monkeys, like men, exhibit distinct personalities. One of the younger individuals of Kempf's group was weak, sensitive, happy, affectionate, and timid. Another, also young, was bold, inquisitive, and aggressive. A third was irascible, sexually cruel, and unpopular. Each monkey stood in a definite relation to every other according to whether he was able to take food away from them or had to give it up himself. This relation was determined either from the start by differences of strength and aggressiveness or by experience. A smaller monkey would habitually dominate a larger one if he had once succeeded in robbing the latter of his food. Polarity in the extremes of ascendance and submission was thus apparent between individuals in the 'hierarchy' of domination by food-taking.

Sociological Aspects of Animal Behavior. Social behavior in the precise sense of making and responding to social stimuli develops hand in hand with permanent and organized group life. It would be difficult to say which was genetically the more fundamental. In order to complete the picture of the social development which has led up to modern human society, it is expedient to turn from specific stimulus and response to the broader sociological considerations of animal life. Society is now generally believed to have originated in the family. We do not need an instinct of gregariousness to account for it; for gregariousness itself is based upon the need of keeping the family together for the protection and training of the young until they shall have had time to fit themselves for life in a . complex and highly evolved order.

In the lower phyla there is little evidence of parental care. Nature's purpose is fulfilled simply by endowing creatures with instincts to lay their eggs in places where the young when hatched

(164) will obtain food and protection. In certain species of spiders the mother carries the young after they are hatched by allowing them to cling to her body. The social insects feed and tend their larvae with great care. Actual recognition and care of the young, however, does not occur below the higher vertebrates, with the exception of a few species of nest-building fish, and certain fish who remain a short time in the vicinity of the young. Amphibians and reptiles take considerable care in placing and protecting their eggs, but parental interest seldom extends to the young in the active state. Incubation of eggs, which is universal among birds, seems to have had its feeble beginning among reptiles, and was a prerequisite for the evolutionary change from eggs which did not require heat to eggs which did. Accompanying the weak and extended infancy of birds and mammals we find a true family life, one, and, in many cases, both parents remaining constant in the feeding, protection, and training of the young until they are able to shift for themselves. The duties of bearing and rearing a family often require cooperation and division of labor. One parent stays with the eggs or young while the other goes in search of food. In mammals the mills-secreting organs have developed as a direct outcome of the need for prolonged care and nourishment of the offspring.

Family groups form the bases of societies in various ways. The insect colony is often one polymorphic family descended from a single queen. Among the social vertebrates there exist either extended families (comparable to human kinship clans) or aggregations of distinct families brought together by their need of food and protection, needs which among certain species are best fulfilled by gregarious life. This latter type of community, which most closely resembles human societies, is typical of monkeys. The higher anthropoids, because, perhaps, of the need of a larger quantity of food, are inclined to live in solitary family groups. A chimpanzee family usually consists of a male with three or four females and ten or twelve young. Sometimes several such families live together under a patriarchal head.

Many sociologists believe that the tender feelings originating through sex and sensitive zone reactions within the family are the

(165) origin of that altruistic regard for others which makes organized society possible. The evidence of deep emotions both conjugal and parental among the higher mammals are often touching. A gorilla will fight to the death to protect his young from beasts of prey. Maternal devotion is no less marked. Professor Yerkes describes the grief of a mother monkey for her dead baby. She persisted for several weeks carrying the dead body about with her wherever she went. Grief for the loss of young has been known to cause the death of females of certain species.

Within the larger groups in which the interests of the whole transcend the narrower family responses, animals afford many examples of cooperation, and often, like human beings, make real sacrifices for the welfare of the group. One of the simplest forms of cooperation, aside from the more primitive division of labor based on polymorphism, is the taking of positions in such a way as to allow the best coordination among the individuals of the group.

Biologists speak of this behavior as "spacing out." In a flock of flying geese each goose maintains an exact distance between himself and the goose ahead of him. Robins searching for worms on the lawn keep at a fairly constant distance from other robins. The migrations of schools of fish and of herds of animals of many kinds are conducted with orderly spacings between individuals. Penguins march well spaced in single file. Various kinds of birds allow regular intervals between their nests and the nests of others of their species.

Cooperation in the stricter sense of each doing his share in a common labor is illustrated as low in the phylogenetic scale as the ants. The cutting and carrying of leaves into the nest for the use of the larvae of certain species is accomplished by the common effort of many individuals. Ants which inhabit India and Ceylon cooperate in fastening leaves together with silken threads to serve as receptacles for the larvae. In a colony of beavers each member not only builds his own house in orderly sequence in the bank, but also does his share in felling trees and in the labor of constructing the dam. The posting of 'guards' or 'sentinels' constitutes another form of cooperation among animals, and indicates both a high degree of social control and a keen susceptibility to social stimuli

(166) in the group concerned. It is stated by observers of penguins that these birds When they go in search of food leave a kind of `nursery guard' consisting of the adult birds having no offspring, who form themselves in a circle about the little penguins. Protective cooperation has also been observed among the anthropoids. A remarkable form of `communal dance,' called a kanjo, occurs among free chimpanzees. A number of these apes join their efforts in making a sort of clay drum by beating down a surface of clay over a peat bog. When slapped this surface gives a hollow sound. They then begin the 'dance' by leaping up and down on this drum and shouting. They jump higher and higher and become noisier as the dance proceeds, until the limit of their powers is reached. There is doubtless a strong circular effect from the rhythmic contributory stimuli, each chimpanzee inciting others and in turn being incited to wilder activity.

Social evolution, which has produced among men a long history of civilization, is practically unknown among infra-human animals. In order that one generation may profit by the experience of the preceding, that experience must be reduced by language or by the use of tools to some permanent form. Social heredity, the product of human thought, labor, and social life, must supplement the germ cell heredity in the life of the individual. Only by this means can the work of individual genius survive to benefit the race. Although inventiveness or genius is hard to discern among animals, they are not altogether without a social inheritance. We have already noted that among some groups of birds and mammals the fear of ancient and predatory enemies of the species is not inherited, but must be handed down through the behavior of the parents as a `social tradition. Perhaps the best example of social heredity among animals is the acquisition of the song characteristic of species of birds through the association of the young birds with the older ones. Orioles reared in isolation from their own kind develop a song of their own unlike the cadence characteristic of the oriole. By being reared with adult canaries, sparrows have been made to acquire a song resembling that of the canary.

Conclusions. Our study of the social activities of animals has revealed that in species not lower in the scale than insects indi-

(167) -viduals respond to the presence and behavior of one another in a manner which aids their life adjustments. For the most part this social behavior is direct and linear, one individual simply reacting to another. Occasionally in their group activities animals afford contributory stimulation to one another; and in a. few situations, Do doubt, the effect of one individual's response comes back to him in the increased activities of his fellows. Circular behavior is thus present, though comparatively rare, among animals.

We must not suppose that the responsiveness to social objects develops to any large extent as a 'social instinct. Originally all signs or actions which were of value as social stimuli acquired that value because they were either (1) associated with food, (2) used as a means of recognizing sex, or (3) interpreted as an indication of ensuing danger. The inborn prepotent requirements of the individual were thus the source of social behavior. The lower forms have progressed only to the point of adapting themselves to the signs unwittingly afforded by their fellows. The method here employed is that of the conditioned response. Birds and mammals have acquired controlling social behavior. In learning their social adjustments they have been able to substitute abridged responses of hostility, sex, or other behavior as signs by which to persuade, coerce, or divert their associates. The most intelligent of infrahuman animals, the monkeys, have shown an aptitude for controlling their fellows by misleading social stimuli.

Probably the most important connection between the social behavior of animals and that of man is the capability for social control. Among human beings domination is exercised with vastly more potent result by language, custom, tradition, and social institutions. The finer nuances of human feeling are played upon, just as the stupid credulity or the sex interest of one monkey is exploited by another. This austere interpretation of society is, however, mollified by the consideration that human beings have come to enjoy social behavior in and for it elf; and that the tender responses of family life, already conspicuous among the higher animals, represent true driving forces in social conduct. Control of individuals is coming to be exercised in the interest of the group as a whole rather than for the exclusive profit of the more cunning and powerful.



Mead, G. H., "What Social Objects must Psychology Presuppose?" Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1910, VII, 174-80.

Munsterberg, H., Psychology, General and Applied, ch. 17.

Allport, F. H., "Behavior and Experiment in Social Psychology," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1919, XIV, 297-306.

Holmes, S. J., Studies in Animal Behavior, chs. 2, 11, 12; 13.

Parmelee, M., The Science of Human Behavior, chs. 17-21.

Groos, K., The Play of Animals, chs. 3, 4.

Lameere, M. A., "Les moeurs sociales des animaux," Bulletin de l'Institut General Psychologique, 1916, XVI, 23-39.

Hobhouse, L. T., Mind in Evolution (2d ed.). ch. 13.

Craig, W., "Why do Animals Fight?" International Journal of Ethics, 1921, XXXI, 264-78.

— "The Voices of Pigeons Regarded as a Means of Social Control," American Journal of Sociology, 1908, XIV, 86-100.

Whitman, C. O., Orthogenic Evolution in Pigeons, vol. 3, "The Behavior of Pigeons." (Edited by Harvey Carr.) Carnegie Institute, Washington, Publications, no. 257, 1919.

Conradi, E., "Song and Call Notes of English Sparrows when Reared by Canaries," American Journal of Psychology, 1905, XVI, 190-98.

Kempf, E. J., "The Social and Sexual Behavior of Infra-Human Primates," Psychoanalytic Review, 1917, IV, 127-54.

— "Did Consciousness of Self Play a Part in the Behavior of this Monkey?" Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1916, XIII, 410-12.

Garner, R. L., The Speech of Monkeys.


  1. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, 1912, IX, 402.
  2. The reader should distinguish clearly between circular social behavior and the circular reflex (p. 39). The former requires two or more individuals; the latter is completed in the nervous system of a single individual.
  3. The term 'self-adapting,' chosen to denote this type of social behavior, is not highly satisfactory because all social behavior has a value for adaptation. It may serve, however, to distinguish this stage of progress from that in which the individual has learned to control others.
  4. The reason for this, however, must not be sought in the mystical explanation that a child 'recapitulates' in his development the behavior of his simian ancestors. It is to be explained by the similarity of the prepotent reflexes, environmental conditions, and learning process involved.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2