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Symbolic communication is exchange of messages that change a priori expectation of events. Examples of this are modern communication technology as also exchange of information amongst animals.
In animal societies, symbolic communication helps one understand the conduct of members of cooperating groups. The behavior of weaver ant workers has been carefully studied and it has been found that communicative gestures with respect to members of the same colony are different than those used with intruders. The interpretation of the symbolic dance of honey bees as a communicative language has been questioned by a few, though numerous experimental results over the last several decades have effectively laid this controversy to rest. See: Bee learning and communication
See also: animal communication.
By referring to objects and ideas not present at the time of communication, a world of possibility is opened. In humans, this process has been compounded to result in our current state of modernity.
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