Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Social Intelligence Hypothesis

  • Alizée VernouilletEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1498-1


The Social Intelligence Hypothesis stipulates that increased complexity in social groups has resulted in larger brains and more advanced cognitive abilities in primates. The Social Intelligence Hypothesis was developed as an answer to why primates, especially humans, possess highly advanced cognitive skills in comparison to other animal species. This enhanced “intelligence” is often associated with the development of certain brain areas associated with complex cognitive abilities (e.g., neocortex) and overall with a larger brain than would be expected given the species’ body size.


During the 1950s and 1960s, researchers started to suggest that large brains in primates were due to their complex social life. The ideas that would later lead into the full concept of the Social Intelligence Hypothesis were first proposed by Michael Chance and Allan Mead in 1953 (Chance and Mead 1953), as they linked social complexity and enlargement of the neocortex in primates, and were...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Dawson Clary
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ManitobaWinnipegCanada