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#3 - When chimpanzees become angry at other chimpanzees

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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox—CE. The correct answer choice is (B)

The paradox in this question is more difficult than some to express. It involves what chimpanzees do when they are angry. One reaction involves the chimpanzees making threat gestures. While the stimulus implies that the chimpanzees make threat gestures as a result of being angry, the language does not explicitly set up that causal relationship, which can be a bit disconcerting. However, the stimulus does explicitly say that anger sometimes causes chimpanzees to attack other chimpanzees.

The puzzling situation is that if anger is what causes both the threat gesture behavior and the attacks on other chimpanzees, then why do those behaviors not occur together? This question does not lend itself to a specifically worded prephrase. Instead, focus on what the correct answer choice will do: it will describe what causes the chimpanzees generally to engage in either threat gestures or attacks on other chimpanzees, but not both, despite both actions sharing a common cause, anger.

Answer choice (A): While this answer explains why the chimpanzees engage in threat gestures, it does not explain why they engage in threat gestures, but do not attack.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice, because it explains why chimpanzees do not both make threat gestures and attack other chimpanzees. From the stimulus, we know that when chimpanzees attack, they do so quickly, and “almost never take time to make threat gestures first.” Now, we also know why chimpanzees do not attack after having made threat gestures—they have vented their aggressive feelings. In other words, while anger leads the chimpanzees to make threat gestures, in making threat gestures the animals dispel that very anger. So, the anger that would otherwise cause the chimpanzees to attack is no longer present.

Answer choice (C): The fact that there are other means by which chimpanzees display aggression does not by itself explain why chimpanzees either make threat gestures or attack. To be relevant, this answer choice would need to accomplish something similar to what occurred in answer choice (B), which explained the impact of threat gestures on the presence of the anger that causes chimpanzees to attack.

Answer choice (D): While this explains why some chimpanzees make threat gestures, it does not explain why chimpanzees engage in either threat gestures or attacks, but not both.

Answer choice (E): This answer choice is attractive in the sense that it addresses both threat gestures and attacks. However, this choice fails because it merely describes the frequency of threat gestures among certain chimpanzees, rather than explaining what causes those chimpanzees who most often engage in threat gestures to attack least often.