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Social structure is enormously important in trying to predict how alien societies might behave, as discussed in Part 1 of this series. It determines whether a society’s actions will be dominated by cooperation or selfishness. And the range of possible behaviors is enormous, from altruism—individuals helping others at a cost to themselves, even if it means increasing the other’s chances of survival and reproduction—to cannibalism, where an individual increases its own chances of survival by consuming another individual of its own species as food.

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