"When building a society, it is of utemost importance that signals be informative and any sources of ambiguity minimized," says Krakauer. "This requirement is reflected in the structure and function of communication networks. A goal of this research has been to study communication at a group level rather than the more traditional communication we associate with pairs."
Using information theory, the researchers show that power emerges through consensus. There is a high degree of consensus among group members that an individual is powerful if that individual has received multiple subordination signals from many individuals ?in the case of pigtailed macaque monkeys, a silent bared-teeth display. On the other hand, there is little consensus if signals come from just a few individuals.
"Consensus about power is an important organizing principle in societies in which conflicts are complicated, often involving many group members at once," explains Krakauer. "In such cases, only individuals widely perceived as powerful will be able to terminate or reduce the severity of these conflicts. Power structure is critical to conflict management, which is in turn critical to social cohesion."