Reaching a Consensus: Terminology and Concepts Used in Coordination and Decision-Making ResearchReport as inadecuate

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International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1268–1278

First Online: 25 May 2011Received: 17 January 2011Accepted: 15 March 2011


Research on coordination and decision-making in humans and nonhuman primates has increased considerably throughout the last decade. However, terminology has been used inconsistently, hampering the broader integration of results from different studies. In this short article, we provide a glossary containing the central terms of coordination and decision-making research. The glossary is based on previous definitions that have been critically revised and annotated by the participants of the symposium -Where next? Coordination and decision-making in primate groups- at the XXIIIth Congress of the International Primatological Society IPS in Kyoto, Japan. We discuss a number of conceptual and methodological issues and highlight consequences for their implementation. In summary, we recommend that future studies on coordination and decision-making in animal groups do not use the terms -combined decision- and -democratic-despotic decision-making.- This will avoid ambiguity as well as anthropocentric connotations. Further, we demonstrate the importance of 1 taxon-specific definitions of coordination parameters initiation, leadership, followership, termination, 2 differentiation between coordination research on individual-level process and group-level outcome, 3 analyses of collective action processes including initiation and termination, and 4 operationalization of successful group movements in the field to collect meaningful and comparable data across different species.

KeywordsAnimal groups Coordination Decision-making Terminology  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Lennart W. Pyritz - Andrew J. King - Cédric Sueur - Claudia Fichtel


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