Most animals have an instinctive desire to dominate. This dominance involves controlling their territory or their environment, as well as attempting to control each other. This “will” to dominate is also adaptive. It serves a survival function. The better job an animal does of dominating or controlling its environment, of dominating other group members, of dominating outsiders who encroach on its territory - the better its chances of survival.
But sometimes, chance and circumstance do not allow an animal to dominate. For example, a stronger animal may attack. In this instance, nature has provided the animal with two possible ways to respond: fight or submit (often called “flight”). If the opponent is stronger, the animal is often more likely to survive if it submits.
Dominance and submission. We usually view one as “positive” and the other as “negative”. But both behaviors have only one objective: To insure the survival of the organism. But these instinctive responses of dominance and submission don’t just apply to the animal kingdom. They apply to us as well.