This chapter discusses the background and evidence for the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis. The essence of the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis is that intelligence evolved in social circumstances. The individuals who are favoured are the ones who are able to use and exploit others in their social group, without causing disruption and potential group fission liable to result in naked aggression. Their manipulations might as easily involve co-operation as conflict, sharing as hoarding — but in each case the end is exploitative and selfish. Consistent with the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis, social species of primate display both complexity of social manipulation and considerable knowledge of social information. This social complexity needs to be fully appreciated in order to understand the strength of the case for Machiavellian intelligence.
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