|Scooped by Ronald Noë|
Abstract: Dynamic models of “Biological Markets” can provide a systematic and ecologically-valid approach to studying communication and social cognition in dolphins. These market models view interacting animals as traders engaged in a negotiation for social commodities, whose values vary with the state of their current market. Across the phyla, factors like the supply and demand of social resources can impact on investment and partner choice. Such models map well to the polyadic nature of typical social interactions, generating predictions based on configurations of participants, and enabling us to use behavioral observations to address issues of cognitive organization. Plus, by positing communicative signals as social currency, these models provide tools to discern which aspects of dolphins’ vocal and gestural repertoires impact on their social relationships. Adapting these models for dolphins highlights the premise that “partnerhood is good,” wherein both players gain when they partner. When considered over time, the gains and losses of valued partners may accumulate into “wealth” or “debt” for a particular player, altering its threshold for responding to its market’s odds. For example, “Partner Debt” could motivate a player to more readily take action to destabilize its current market. In dolphins, one type of social currency that bears further investigation is the use of vocal and/or gestural mimicry. Such mimesis may promote prosociality, cooperation, and even the coordination of third party information.
Keywords: Biological Markets, Dolphins, Social cognition, Communication, Imitation, Mimesis
Ronald Noë's insight:
This is a contribution to a workshop “Methods for Studying Communication and Social Cognition in Cetaceans”, organised by the author (Christine Johnson) and Denise Herzig during the 21st Biennial Conference of the Marine Mammal Society (San Francisco December 2015).
After an introduction to BMT with the help of some examples, mainly intra-specific markets in animals, the author delineates a detailed research program in dolphins based on market theory. Emphasis is placed on the value of partnerships as such in these animals that depend on cooperation and coordination in many aspects of life. Going from “Who does what to whom?” to “Who does what to whom, while who else is present?” (p. 228) is perhaps the core element in the proposal to introduce more market in dolphin research.