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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Mar 27;364(1518):719-42. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0276.

Group decisions in humans and animals: a survey.

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JMS Building, Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QR, UK.


Humans routinely make many decisions collectively, whether they choose a restaurant with friends, elect political leaders or decide actions to tackle international problems, such as climate change, that affect the future of the whole planet. We might be less aware of it, but group decisions are just as important to social animals as they are for us. Animal groups have to collectively decide about communal movements, activities, nesting sites and enterprises, such as cooperative breeding or hunting, that crucially affect their survival and reproduction. While human group decisions have been studied for millennia, the study of animal group decisions is relatively young, but is now expanding rapidly. It emerges that group decisions in animals pose many similar questions to those in humans. The purpose of the present issue is to integrate and combine approaches in the social and natural sciences in an area in which theoretical challenges and research questions are often similar, and to introduce each discipline to the other's key ideas, findings and successful methods. In order to make such an introduction as effective as possible, here, we briefly review conceptual similarities and differences between the sciences, and provide a guide to the present issue.

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