Stress release : LUSENET : like sands : One Thread

The bit about the male baboon de-stressing by taking it out on the poor female is interesting.. well whats really interesting is that this actually HELPS the male baboon control his stress and thus is a healthy act for him. While we certainly condemn this act, as it offends our sense of fair play. Now if the baboon tackled a larger male ( in accordance with our conception of fair play ), the odds are that he may get creamed. If the male bottled up all the stress, like many of us do, especially men, who are conditioned not to cry, he'd suffer.

So from a survival standpoint, whats the baboon to do ?

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001


Unfortunately, fair play very rarely shows up in nature. I think that baboons have evolved in their social interactions in a way which is probably optimal for their survival. Of course, the less dominant males are always going to get the short end of the stick, but the one piece of good news is that males tend to move up the social ladder at least somewhat as they age.

But yeah, life isn't fair, especially if you're a baboon.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

Non-alpha males *always* get the short end of the stick, and all male- male relations are based on hierarchy and dominance. This is why (1) you must always tell cooler stories than male friends (2) have cooler toys than male friends and (3) never, ever be male-gay.

An evolutionary biologist friend shrugged and said, "Hey, in every social group-- someone has to be the negro." By which she meant (cf. Freud's note that every joke is about 3 people-- teller, listener, and butt of the joke)that without someone to take it out on, to consign to lower status, the vast middle of the group will simply explode into rage and violence and chaos.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

Hmmm... Was there any research done on the stress levels of the females that were being picked on, and what their mechanisms were for de-stressing? I would be intrigued to find out what the non- agressive methods for relieving stress were in the community.

Also, it would be interesting to find out if isolated male baboons would use a similar (if it exists for females) non-personal agression model to relieve stress...or if violence against inanimate objects has a similar result (ie simply the physical release, as opposed to shadenfreude, as a means to relax).

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

In answer to Brad's question, the focus of the study was on the males, but he did show some data indicating that females' stress level goes up when a particularly violent male joins the troop. Their stress-relief techniques were not discussed.

As for isolated baboons, I don't think there are any...baboons are social animals. He did show, however, that in rats who are exposed to regular shocks, either having another rat in the cage who it could take out its aggressions on or having a block of wood to chew on were equally effective stress-busters. So, maybe the same is true of baboons, although I think the violence towards other animals may serve a dual purpose of relieving stress and preserving that animal's position in the hierarchy.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

One can certainly see this social dynamic played out in any prison, where one is either predator or preyed upon. Of course, persons in prison are more violent, in general, and are more likely to express that violence, whether in or out of the prison setting, than the larger population of non-prisoners. Still, the crowding, lack of privacy, constant stress, and the need to attain or retain one's dominance in the social hierarchy (which, in prison, becomes crucial, as opposed to "the real world," where it is merely an advantage, important but not a matter of life and death) mirrors the baboon culture examined by Mr.Sapolsky.

-- Anonymous, March 01, 2001

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