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Machiavellian Intelligence

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Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Synonyms

Social intelligence

Definition

The hypothesis that an important contribution to the evolution of intelligent behavior was the adaptive challenge of dealing with the complexities of living in a social group: striking a balance between cooperation and competition with a range of other individuals, often requiring subtle social skills rather than brute power.

Introduction

Before the 1980s, it was generally accepted that intelligence, in the sense of that package of useful skills that impress people as being in some way “smart,” evolved to deal with the physical challenges of the environment: finding and getting access to food, remembering safe places, noticing signs of danger, etc. (For human evolution, a special form of this hypothesis was labeled “Man the tool maker.”) Complex societies were considered a by-product of intelligence.

Radically different views were occasionally expressed, pointing instead to the problems set by social living. Chance and Mead (1953), impressed...

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References

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Correspondence to Richard W. Byrne .

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Byrne, R.W. (2022). Machiavellian Intelligence. In: Vonk, J., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-55065-7_781

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