Dominance Hierarchy

The truth about pecking orders.

I’ve been watching a lot of Jordan Peterson videos lately, and one theory he seems to talk about a lot is the Dominance Hierarchy. It sounds pretty interesting and I am surprised that I haven’t heard much about it before, so I’m gonna go google it and try to learn what I can about it for the next half hour. I’ll talk to you then.

Okay, I’m back. I hope it’s okay if I paste the first paragraph of the wiki article here, cause I’m gonna do it. Here it is:

Dominance hierarchy arises when members of a social group interact, often aggressively, to create a ranking system. In social living groups, members are likely to compete for access to limited resources and mating opportunities. Rather than fighting each time they meet, relative relationships are formed between members of the same sex. Based on repetitive interactions a social order is created that is subject to change each time a dominant animal is challenged by a subordinate one.

The more I think about this, it seems to be that this applies to almost all areas of our lives; Home and family life, work, school, sports teams, friend groups. Crazy isn’t it. Be aware that I may use the terms “dominance hierarchy” and “social hierarchy” for the same purpose.

Systems in the Dominance Hierarchy are basically what we call “pecking orders”. These tend to decide who gets the last piece of pizza, who rides shotgun, who does the talking in confrontational situations, who decides where the squad hangs out, etc. The pecking order might just be more important to the way animals live their lives than it is for us humans. For example, Gorillas have a social hierarchy that goes a bit like this:

1. Dominant Male

2. Dominant Female

3. Other gorillas

The social hierarchy for Gorillas is said to be very evident when watching them in their natural habitat. These groups tend to consist of around 20 gorillas, with the dominant male and dominant female on the top of the head of the pecking order. The male dominant gorilla is the main leader and decision maker in the social hierarchy. He eats first, and eats the most. The other gorillas follow his lead and mainly rely on him in day to day life. The dominant female is the chosen partner of the dominant male, and also has a lot of power in the group. The other members of the group follow the lead of the dominants and protect them. They also eat last of the group and have the responsibility to groom the baby gorillas.

I think that the dominance hierarchy among gorillas serves as a good metaphor for how we work and interact as humans, even if it doesn’t mach up perfectly.

This has been no. 5