Altruism as an advertisement: a model of the evolution of cooperation based on Zahavi's handicap principle

Pilot, Malgorzata (2005) Altruism as an advertisement: a model of the evolution of cooperation based on Zahavi's handicap principle. Ethology Ecology and Evolution, 17 (3). pp. 217-231. ISSN 0394-9370

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Most models describing the evolution of animal cooperative behaviour are based on the principle of reciprocal altruism. However, according to the "advertising hypothesis", based on Zahavi's handicap principle, an altruistic act is a signal indicating an individual's quality and is profitable even if its recipient never reciprocates. In this paper, this hypothesis has been tested in three computer simulations of the evolution of altruistic behaviour. A model of a population has been studied, where individuals' fitness was calculated as a product of two parameters: "energy" and "prestige". It was assumed that as a result of an altruistic act its donor loses energy and gains prestige, and a recipient gains energy and loses prestige. Individuals played a game based on decision-making: to cooperate (i.e. to behave altruistically) or not in a particular round. An individual's strategy influenced its fitness, i.e. the number of its offspring. As offspring inherited their parent's strategy, frequency of "good" strategies increased in the population, and "bad" ones disappeared. The results of these simulations show that if altruistic acts are costly and bring social prestige, cooperation can persist in the population under a wide range of conditions, despite the lack of direct reciprocity. However, besides the strategy of cooperation with a frequency proportional to an individual's quality, as predicted by the advertising hypothesis, other strategies, even unconditional altruism, can persist in the population in some conditions.

Keywords:altruism, cooperative behavior, ecological modeling, evolution, Animalia
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:9441
Deposited On:11 Jul 2013 15:08

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