Social Intelligence of Dolphins

Social Connection, Alliances, Behavior; lessons these great beings lend us.
Connection, Alliances, and Behavior Lessons

Learning from those who have greater intelligence is wisdom. Dolphins have greater intelligence than we humans because their brains are larger. A chief function of their brain is to relate to others for both survival and for pleasure. This greater brain informs our own social intelligence in different ways. First, their sense of connection to the group inform us how relate to others better. Second, they lend insights to how to communicate in complicated exchanges based on situational alliances. Third, these communicative animals’ social behaviors suggests values for consideration.

Connection to the Group

Researchers hypothesize that dolphins have a sense of their self as a separate dolphin. As well, they posses a sense of themselves as a connection to the group.

  • Do you distinguish yourself among other group members to share your differences (i.e.: style or opinions)?
  • Do you as an individual of a group consider yourself an important link to the group?

When one dolphin is distressed the entire group will follow it with focused concentration. They join together to rally around the distressed dolphin. There are reasons to believe that they are competitive as individuals yet, simultaneously connected to the group for the well-being of its members.

In humans [in our current culture] this group behavior is found in trauma situations. No matter where a person was during the 911 tragedy, there was an experience of mutual healing.

  • What groups are you a member of? Are you involved socially?
  • In ordinary circumstances how does your group rally for an injured member?
  • How might you effectively help co workers?
  • How might this gathering behavior of the team benefit the group as well as the individual?
  • When might this rallying behavior comprimise the health of individual/s help the distressed?

Group social behaviors are a science well studied. The dolphin’s facile ability to act as both an individual and group member is worthy of greater observation. Certainly there is room for improvement among the two leggeds.

Situational Alliances

Group alliances are significant and complicated among dolphins. In various situations they act differently depending on the others present, those present, or upon the goals of the others. We primates have strong group boundaries to signify membership as either in or out. Dolphins’ are not as absolute in their criterion for membership. Dolphins’ group boundaries vary depending on their tasks and needs. Addtionally, another dolphin may have been an alliance the day before and considered a foe the next. They regulate their behavior dependent on the circumstances and the company around them in order to find food or to mate.

Organization experts developed an understanding of management’s role with their report with a quadrant tool known as situational leadership. This is a wonderful tool yet, insufficient for the dolphin. Dolphins relate situationally in a vast, complicated, dynamic underworld arenas. They activate strategically large-order alliances for big battles between smaller-order alliances. Essentially, they ally to protect the equivalent of extremely distant relatives in competitive waters.

This type of intelligence could expand the present day functioning of social alliances.

  • What situations could a group benefit from a large social force to defend or fight for it?
  • How would that group best intervene.
  • What greater social intelligence than we currently access is required for this to become a large scale norm?
  • Are there potential unintended social consequences?

Imagine the proactive circuitry that we could ignite. Large enterprises could benefit from smaller internal alliances to protect interests beyond their own function. Beneficial effects upon the larger system could radiate influential social changes.

Communicative Behavior

The dolphin’s communicative behavior suggests values of listening, strategizing and communicating with others who are different. Dolphins quickly learn from each other socially. They rapidly communicate effectively and rapidly with each other through signals. Adept communicators with individuals, trios and, cohesive groups, dolphins strategize social motives to advance their attainment of food, mate and play.

Their signal language translates even to man-made machines through brilliant communication using recurring motifs of algorithmic sounds. This is extremely sophisticated among the animal kingdom. Moreover, they adamantly expose themselves to other species social language and are believed to learn it quickly so that they can interact.

Inquiry into our social communication based on dolphin’s communicative behavior follows below.

  • What is your social language?
  • How effective is your social communication?
  • Are you able to communicate well with individuals/trios, groups?
  • Are you aware of your goals?
  • Do you consider how your social communications might help you achieve your goals?
  • Are you interested in communication with others who are different?
  • How determined are you to listen and learn another’s language?

Listening is one of the most difficult challenges for good communication. It demonstrates interest, care, and respect. Listening well is a skill from the dolphins. They encourage us to see if we can learn new social languages. This week, consider how well you listen.


Lessons from creatures who have larger brains can only benefit our species. Here we examined the social life of dolphins and gained lessons about how to connect to our group for mutual well-being, discover alliances in different situations, and communicate better.

An ocean of social learning awaits as we learn from nature’s great underwater brains.

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