Ritual Behavior in Animals

Courtship duet among the grebes:

and among sandhill cranes:

Social grooming among primates (HT: Warg Franklin)

Ritualized aggression (HT: Warg Franklin)

Submission behaviors, e.g. chimp "greetings."

Ritual greetings:

  • Penguin parents and children greeting each other after a long absence.

What is ritual in non-human animals?

  • Symbolic. A behavior that "stands in for" something else.
  • Formal. Takes the same form every time?
  • Changes social reality in the minds of participants.
  • Non-transactional? Rules out bower-building among bowerbirds?


Last updated December 19, 2015.