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Display behavior is the tendency of living things to express actions or formations, it is thought, for competitive advantage.

Display behaviour in animals

Animals may use display behavior for different purposes including threat, courtship and direct competition.


An example for courtship display may be the behavior of animals such as the male bowerbird, that builds nests to attract female bowerbirds. Other male animals perform courtship dances trying to show their advantage over other males. Another good example is the male peacock showing his big ornamented tail.

Animals may use display behavior during direct competition between them for resources . In many cases, when two animals need the same resource (food, territory, females), a conflict may arise which, if escalated into a fight, may cause damage to one or all the involved. In these cases, using a display behavior that allows the animal to estimate the opponent's fighting ability, may save the costs and risks of fighting an unnecessary battle. Examples of this behavior may be found in the a wide range of beetles, birds, and mammals.


Display behaviour in humans

In humans the display behaviour is not necessarily so ritualized but does show in body language cues Humans might select clothing or affect types of speech in order to attract attention.

In human cultures

The big men of Papua would stage elaborate feasts to show the extent of their influence and power. The potlatches of the Pacific Northwest were held for much of the same effect.

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