The film company Coast has recently made a short film about a paper by Dr Jennifer Cook, which shows that many dominant individuals, far from ignoring information from others, are actually keen social learners. 

The research

Dominant individuals report high levels of self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and authoritarianism. The lay stereotype suggests that such individuals ignore information from others, preferring to make their own choices. However, the nonhuman animal literature presents a conflicting view, suggesting that dominant individuals are avid ‘social learners’, whereas subordinates focus on learning from ‘private experience’. This research has challenged the lay view by showing that some dominant people – ‘socially dominant’ people -  are keen social learners, whereas ‘aggressively dominant’ people are not.

The film is based on the paper ‘The Social Dominance Paradox’, and was sponsored by the AXA Research Fund.