Social animal


Social animal

A social animal is a loosely defined term for an organism that is highly interactive with other members of its species to the point of having a recognizable and distinct society.All mammals (and birds) are social to the extent that mothers and offspring bond. The term "social animal" is usually only applied when there is a level of social organization that goes beyond this, with permanent groups of adults living together, and relationships between individuals that endure from one encounter to another.

Animal social behaviour and organisation is studied in comparative psychology, ethology, sociobiology, behavioural ecology and computer science (artificial intelligence). Typical issues in social behaviour are:

* What is the typical size of the group? What factors limit group size? What factors lead to groups merging or splitting?
* Does the species show territoriality? If so, to what extent? If territories are maintained, what is their purpose? Are they held by an individual or a group?
* Are there permanent social dominance relationships within the group? Is there any pattern within them?

A few species, notably insects of the orders "Hymenoptera" (ants, bees and wasps) and "Isoptera" (termites) show an extreme form of sociality, involving highly organized societies, with individual organisms specialized for distinct roles. This form of social behaviour is referred to as eusociality. Some vertebrates, most notably the Naked Mole Rat, are also eusocial

Some animals whose social behaviour is of particular interest:

* Humans ("Homo sapiens")
* Gorillas ("Gorilla gorilla")
* Dogs ("Canis familiaris" or "Canis lupus familiaris")
* Wolves ("Canis lupus")
* Chimpanzees ("Pan troglodytes")
* Dolphins ("Delphinidae")
* Lions ("Panthera leo")
* Bonobos ("Pan paniscus")
* Meerkats ("Suricata suricatta")
* Hyenas

See also

*Sociobiology


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Social Animal — is Elliot Aronson s book about social psychology. Originally written in 1972, The Social Animal covers, in a style written for the general audience, what modern psychology has deduced about the reasons for certain aspects of human… …   Wikipedia

  • social — adj Social, gregarious, cooperative, convivial, companionable, hospitable are comparable rather than synonymous terms that all involve and often stress the idea of having or manifesting a liking for or attraction to the company of others. Social …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • social science — social scientist. 1. the study of society and social behavior. 2. a science or field of study, as history, economics, etc., dealing with an aspect of society or forms of social activity. [1775 85] * * * Any discipline or branch of science that… …   Universalium

  • Social grooming — In social animals and humans social grooming or allogrooming is an activity in which individuals in a group clean or maintain each other s body or appearance. It is a major social activity, and a means by which animals who live in proximity can… …   Wikipedia

  • animal — an|i|mal1 W1S1 [ˈænıməl] n [Date: 1300 1400; : Latin; Origin: animalis having life , from anima soul ] 1.) a living creature such as a dog or cat, that is not an insect, plant, bird, fish, or person ▪ furry little animals wild/domestic/farm… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • social — adj. & n. adj. 1 of or relating to society or its organization. 2 concerned with the mutual relations of human beings or of classes of human beings. 3 living in organized communities; unfitted for a solitary life (man is a social animal). 4 a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • animal — I UK [ˈænɪm(ə)l] / US noun [countable] Word forms animal : singular animal plural animals *** 1) biology any living thing that can move independently and that has senses for recognizing and reacting to the environment around it. Animals are… …   English dictionary

  • animal — an|i|mal1 [ ænıml ] noun count *** 1. ) a living creature that is not a human: lions, tigers, and other wild animals He is accused of cruelty to animals. a ) any living creature, including humans: Man is the only animal that uses language. 2. )… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • animal — 1 noun (C) 1 a living creature such as a dog or cat, that is not an insect, plant, fish, or person: farm animals | animal welfare/rights etc: campaigning for animal rights | animal products/protein/fats etc (=things that are made or come from… …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • social — sociable, social These two words relate to different meanings of society, and should not normally get in each other s way. Social is a classifying word that relates to society in the broad sense of the relation of human beings to one another (Man …   Modern English usage


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.