Threatening behavior

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Threatening behavior ( i.e. threatening gestures ) is a form of agonistic behavior and describes an intimidation or deterrent posture or gesture that (in humans and animals) precedes an attack or is intended to dissuade an attacker from the attack. Threatening behavior is part of the expressive behavior and must be distinguished from the imposing behavior in that the former refers (in animals) to alien species, whereas the latter mostly refers to conspecifics of the same sex.


In humans, symbolic forms of threatening gestures are widespread, e.g. B.

Especially in the legal sense, one speaks of a threat .

In groups, threatening gestures are reinforced by synchronous movements or shouts (e.g. military parade as a show of force).

In an institutional, military or even international context, B. the sending of armed forces ( combat readiness ), deployment or the threat of sanctions .

Nuclear threatening gesture: missile on a military parade .
Threatening soldiers show their weapons
Man baring his teeth
Staring look
Maori grimacing at the Haka .
Roar, grimace, fluff up and synchronized movements with the Haka .

Man and animal kingdom

In the animal kingdom as threatening gestures in addition (ie not with humans) are widespread

  • in dogs threatening fixation of the opponent, baring teeth, tense posture, raised tail, bristling back hair and growling
  • Hissing (e.g. domestic cat )
  • Make yourself extra tall (build yourself up) (e.g. fluffing up in birds)
  • Roar or scream
  • Show or bar your teeth
  • make particularly loud and deep sounds (e.g. game).
  • jump forward unexpectedly without actually attacking
  • Eye contact and threatening stare (e.g. also showing an eye , see also Blickduell )
  • The presentation of signal colors
  • In some arthropods, hissing or chirping sounds

Threatening behavior is used as part of territorial behavior . This is also referred to as the dirty area . Almost all animals understand threatening behavior universally or at least perceive them as a threat.

See also

Individual evidence

  2. Angelika Bernadette Bublak: Expressive behavior of dogs (Canis familiaris) towards humans in a behavior test and appeasement signals in dog-human communication, page 12
  3. D. Franck: On the threatening behavior of the laughing mowe (Larus ridibundus) outside the breeding season. In: Vogelwarte. 20, 1959, pp. 137-144.
  4. ^ Rolf Hennig: About some behavior of the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) in the wild. In: Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. 19.2, 1962, pp. 223-229.