This section highlights mechanisms for the control of aggression, which are needed for any species relying on cooperation for survival. The low rate of aggressive confrontations despite the widespread opportunities for conflict between group members indicates the high efficacy of these mechanisms. Because these mechanisms aim to prevent the occurrence of an event (i.e., aggressive escalation), they are more difficult to study than the ones following an event (such as reconciliation). Consequently, there has been less progress in this area than in the study of post-conflict resolution. The contributions of this section clearly indicate, however, the importance of studying these mechanisms because reducing the probability of escalation is certainly a more efficient way to deal with conflict than repairing the damage afterward.
In Chapter 5 Preuschoft and van Schaik examine how communication of power asymmetries and established dominance relationships may serve as conflict management devices by regulating aggressive escalation. They argue that escalation is delayed, even during conflict between strangers, by stepwise assessment of the relative fighting abilities. This assessment is often facilitated by active communication of such abilities and motivation for the disputed resource, or by arbitrary conventions. Specific signals of dominance and submission are especially exchanged by animals with individualized relationships such as territory neighbors and group members. In these contexts, dyadic confrontations may also be influenced by the involvement or mere presence of third parties. Alliances can therefore play a role in maintaining the stability of power relationships