The Difference between Signal and Cue

  • Roger A. B. Abrantes Ethology Institute
Keywords: Signal, Cue


In the behavioral sciences, there is some confusion regarding the meaning of the terms signal and cue and some authors use it interchangeably. Among animal trainers, there seems to be no consensus at all, the terms being used at the authors’ discretion without further explantations. We review the general consensus in the behavior sciences and improve the definitions so they are compatible with Darwinian evolution theory.  Conclusion: A signal is everything that intentionally changes or maintains the behavior of the receiver. A cue is everything that unintentionally changes or maintains the behavior of the receiver.



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How to Cite
Abrantes, R. (2011, December 1). The Difference between Signal and Cue. Ethology Journal Online, 2(1), 9-12. Retrieved from
Review Articles (peer-reviewed)