Faculté des sciences

Evolution of spite through indirect reciprocity

Johnstone, Rufus A. ; Bshary, Redouan

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B : Biological Sciences, 2004, vol. 271, p. 1917-1922

How can cooperation persist in the face of a temptation to 'cheat'? Several recent papers have suggested that the answer may lie in indirect reciprocity. Altruistic individuals may benefit by eliciting altruism from observers, rather than (as in direct reciprocity) from the recipient of the aid they provide. Here, we point out that indirect reciprocity need not always favour cooperation; by... Plus

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    Summary
    How can cooperation persist in the face of a temptation to 'cheat'? Several recent papers have suggested that the answer may lie in indirect reciprocity. Altruistic individuals may benefit by eliciting altruism from observers, rather than (as in direct reciprocity) from the recipient of the aid they provide. Here, we point out that indirect reciprocity need not always favour cooperation; by contrast, it may support spiteful behaviour, which is costly for the both actor and recipient. Existing theory suggests spite is unlikely to persist, but we demonstrate that it may do so when spiteful individuals are less likely to incur aggression from observers (a negative form of indirect reciprocity).