Dr. Frans de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist known for his work on the behavior and social intelligence of primates. His work illuminated our understanding of how alpha males actually thrive through acts of generosity, empathy, and conflict resolution. Discover how you can learn from our distant cousins when it comes to peacemaking, bullying, winning, and more.
[3:35] Alpha male is a term coined by Dr. Frans. They are not typically aggressive nor selfish.
[5:30] Frans has witnessed chimps comfort an alpha male who was popular because he kept the peace in the group.
[7:35] Frans describes effective alpha male primates as empathetic.
[12:40] Alpha monkeys will get in the middle of fights to break it up or even punish other high ranking members of the group if they do something wrong. They don’t always play favorites but instead act in accordance with the well being of the group as a whole.
[15:30] Despite years of research, Frans has a hard time predicting which male will take over when the leader of the pack dies.
[16:00] Frans observed leadership qualities with female primates start to develop at four to five years old.
[16:35] The male hierarchy is a very “political” process, and is not decided by who is the biggest and strongest male.
[22:45] If you have an alpha male who is also a bully, a younger male will usually challenge the leader, and often, the group turns on the alpha male.
[23:45] If you remove the bullied victim from the environment, primates will find another scapegoat to fill in that role.
[27:20] Males tend to have a peacemaking strategy and the females have a peacekeeping strategy.
[30:50] Monkeys learn through observation. Active teaching doesn’t exist in the primate world.
[33:25] We often think the key to conflict resolution is in the language, but language is trivial compared to the message delivered via body language.
[39:40] Effective male primates may steal food, but for the purpose of sharing and displaying generosity to curry favor.
Quotable QuotesBullying is especially common in primate groups that are unstable. Click To Tweet “A scapegoat unifies the group because it becomes the common enemy.” Click To Tweet “Alpha males who are bullies do not last long.” Click To Tweet Males are good at comforting each other and getting over conflict, while females are good at preventing conflict. Click To Tweet
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