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The genesis  of human communication.

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The genesis  of human communication.

The human way of communicating by intentionally informing others for cooperative motives comes naturally to us that its  why we can communicate each other .

But in the biological world, communication need not be either intentional or cooperative. For biologists, communication comprises any and all physical and behavioral characteristics that influence the behavior of others from distinctive colorations to dominance displays regardless of whether the signaler has any intentional control over the signal . 

But from a psychological point of view, these things matter. We must begin, therefore, by distinguishing between what we may call communicative displays and communicative signals.

Communicative displays are prototypically physical characteristics that in some way affect the behavior of others, such as large horns which deter competitors or bright colors which attract mates.

Functionally, we may also group with displays reflexive behaviors that are invariably evoked by particular stimuli or emotional states and over which the individual has no voluntary control. Such inflexible physical and behavioral displays, created and controlled by evolutionary processes, characterize the vast majority of communication in the biological world.

In sharp contrast are communicative signals that are chosen and produced by individual organisms flexibly and strategically for particular social goals, adjusted in various ways for particular circumstances. These signals are intentional in the sense that the individual controls their use flexibly toward the goal of influencing others. Intentional signals are extremely rare in the biological world, perhaps confined to primates or even great apes. In this way of looking at things, the key role is that of the communicator.

Recipients are simply individuals going about their business attempting to assess the situation and figure out what to do. They are seeking relevant information, from whatever source, and so the communicative display of another individual is just another source of information regardless of whether the “communicator” even knows it.

In contrast, when communicators attempting to influence the psychological states of recipients intentionally, we now have the starting point for communication from a psychological point of view. When such intentional exists, and in addition recipients recognize it to at least some degree, then we may refer to the overall process as intentional communication.

To qualify as cooperative communication, among other things the communicator’s proximate goal must be somehow to help or share with the recipient even though, of course, evolutionary there must be some benefit to the communicator for being so helpful as well. 

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