Chimpanzees fight each other to become alpha males. In chimps this competition for status starts happening at adolescence. Male chimpanzees wait until an opportune moment to become aggressive with each other. Aggression among males within a chimpanzee community happens most obviously at ‘election time’, when the old hierarchy is being challenged. This happens when a young, low-ranking male whose physical and political power is growing develops a disrespectful attitude toward established authority, typically expressed as a refusal to grovel before a higher-ranking senior. This type of attitude can bring violence to a whole community if the alpha male feels threatened.2
Male chimpanzees compete aggressively for dominance. If a lower-ranking male refuses to recognize a superior one, the superior one will become angry. Male chimpanzees organize their whole life around issues of rank. Their attempts to achieve and maintain alpha status are cunning, persistent, energetic, and time-consuming. These kinds of behaviors do not come from a drive to be violent, but from a set of emotions, that in humans, would be called having pride or being arrogant.
Male chimpanzees behave as if they are driven to reach the top of the community pile. However, once they are accepted as alpha males, their tendency for violence falls dramatically. 3 They suppress fights among lower ranking males.
Chimpanzee males and females form alliances to help them in gaining and keeping high rank. Male chimpanzees tend to groom all their followers. Once males have reached the top, they become benign leaders
Humans consider themselves as the superior primates. In human groups, pride serves as a stimulus for much interpersonal aggression
Males who have achieved high status turn their social success into extra reproduction. This becomes a part of sexual competition, which can cause conflict.
During the middle school years, humans often gather into large clusters. The group emphasizes loyalty and activities that members participate in together. As with the older boys, peer groups of this age are very interested in competition between members, achievements of peers, and their groups tend to have formal and rigid rules with some clearly dominating members. Emotional intimacy is not usually present or, if present is not emphasized. Boys’ peer groups tend to emphasize feelings of inclusion and very supportive of each other. The group engages in many activities such as sports, in which the members corporate with each other, rather than compete (their team competes with another team).5