Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Whether human or hyena, there' s safety in numbers

Date:
April 23, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Humans, when alone, see threats as closer than they actually are. But mix in people from a close group, and that misperception disappears.

Humans, when alone, see threats as closer than they actually are. But mix in people from a close group, and that misperception disappears.

Related Articles


In other words, there's safety in numbers, according to a new study by two Michigan State University scholars. Their research provides the first evidence that people's visual biases change when surrounded by members of their own group.

"Having one's group or posse around actually changes the perceived seriousness of the threat," said Joseph Cesario, lead author on the study and assistant professor of psychology. "In that situation, they don't see the threat quite so closely because they have their people around to support them in responding to the threat.'"

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study appears online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The study was inspired by MSU zoologist Kay Holekamp's research with wild hyenas in Kenya. Holekamp and her team played recordings of hyenas from other parts of Africa and found the hyenas listening to the voices were more likely to approach the source of the sound when they were in groups and more likely to flee when they were alone.

The research by Cesario and Carlos Navarrete, associate professor of psychology, was similar, only it dealt with humans and perceived distance of potential threats. In two separate studies of more than 300 participants, the researchers showed that people who are alone judge threats as much closer than when they are in a group.

Like most social species, hyenas and humans have developed adaptations over time to better deal with predatory threats.

"This is about evolutionarily significant threats, such as members of a different group coming to steal resources or attack you," Cesario said. "The cost of not responding soon enough to a threat like that could be death or serious injury. So seeing that threat as closer allows you to respond with enough time to spare. What our work shows is that having your group or coalition around you makes that kind of early responding less necessary."

The study dealt with racial bias and group threats. The participants, who were white, were assessed on how negative they were toward blacks and then asked to judge the distance to a black community, both when the participants were alone and as part of a group.

Cesario said the perceived threat can take many forms -- be it from other races, communities or even students from another university, as one nonrelated study showed.

"So this line of research has little to do with the makeup of the group -- whether it's members of another race or students from another college -- but more to do with the question of, 'Are you with me or not?'"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Whether human or hyena, there' s safety in numbers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135115.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, April 23). Whether human or hyena, there' s safety in numbers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135115.htm
Michigan State University. "Whether human or hyena, there' s safety in numbers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423135115.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins