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Evolution of Communicative FlexibilityComplexity, Creativity, and Adaptability in Human and Animal Communication$
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D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262151214

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262151214.001.0001

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Evolutionary Forces Favoring Communicative Flexibility

Evolutionary Forces Favoring Communicative Flexibility

(p.9) 2 Evolutionary Forces Favoring Communicative Flexibility
Evolution of Communicative Flexibility

Ulrike Griebel

D. Kimbrough Oller

The MIT Press

This chapter defines “signal flexibility” and “functional flexibility” as two kinds of contextual flexibility in communication. It evaluates the environmental/social conditions and communication types that seem to favor selection for variability or complexity in communication systems and which may result in signal and functional flexibility. The chapter also presents clear cases of actions such as camouflage and deception, and proposes that some degree of signal flexibility is a prerequisite for functional flexibility. It analyzes the occurrence of the various mapping options for signals and functions in nonhumans from invertebrates to primates, and suggests that human communicative flexibility first emerged under pressures of social cohesion.

Keywords:   signal flexibility, functional flexibility, communication systems, evolved communication, camouflage, deception, human, communicative flexibility

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