Society 101: Human Gorilla Games

grabbing-genitalsThe next time you want to show respect for your boss, should you grab his genitals?

Maybe not.

But according to “Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships” – a book based on studies of “dominance games” acted out by non-human primates – this is exactly what a gorilla might do to his boss, or the alpha male of his group.

As reported in Salon, author, and University of Chicago professor Dario Maestripieri contends that “our social relationships have analogs in nature, especially within groups of primates. “While we may not go up and grab our supervisor’s genitals as a sign of respect,” Maestripieri contends, “We engage in similar acts that help us figure out where we fit in groups.”

Okay, so genitals aside, what social interactions do you engage in to solidify your place in society?

Think about it. Chances are, they are all “primal instincts.”

Says Maestripieri, “Just like humans, other primates grapple with questions of dominance, reciprocation, nepotism and fidelity.” All primal needs to find our place in a group.

A similarly titled book, “Games People Play” – written in the 1960’s – dealt with human relationships and the patterns we exhibit in forming relationships. Behavioral patterns which uncannily mimic those of more primitive primates, such as ‘tit for tat,’ reciprocation, altruism, and punishment.

game-theoryI use game theory to explain the way we behave,” Maestripieri explains.

For example, many people behave altruistically without any compensation, without any reward or benefit. But, on average, more people are willing to commit a crime. Altruism becomes something that can be reciprocated if you use it to gain a reputation….”

As with primates, so with humans.

Another example Maestripieri provides involves the primate/human correlation of the naturalness of nepotism.

It’s natural,” says Maestripieri. “But the problem with human nepotism is that when it’s implemented, then rules are broken, laws are broken, and crimes are committedSo because we have a social charter and rules we’ve established that regulate our societies, nepotism can become criminal. The fact that something is natural doesn’t make it acceptable ethically, legally or socially. In nature, there is no morality. Nepotism just is. Nepotism exists in society, but we decide that it’s morally and legally wrong. So it becomes a big issue.”

Now, here’s an even deeper revelation: based on his extensive knowledge of primate behavior, Maestripieri claims to be able to tell from a person’s emails whether or not they will succeed in life.

successful-exec “Show me your emails,” he writes. “And I will tell you whether you are on the fast track to become a leader of your company, or whether it’s unlikely that you will have secretaries answering your email anytime soon.”




Are you a human gorilla?

What games do you play to fit into society?


World News Wednesday


2 thoughts on “Society 101: Human Gorilla Games

  1. Being transparent and sincere eliminates the need for games. If the environment is not respectful of that dynamic and requires games probably not a could space in which to remain if you are one that does not compromise integrity.

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