A theory for the evolution of other-regard integrating proximate and ultimate perspectives.

TitleA theory for the evolution of other-regard integrating proximate and ultimate perspectives.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date Published2009

Although much previous work describes evolutionary mechanisms that promote or stabilize different social behaviors, we still have little understanding of the factors that drive animal behavior proximately. Here we present a modeling approach to answer this question. Our model rests on motivations to achieve objectives as the proximate determinants of behavior. We develop a two-tiered framework by first modeling the dynamics of a social interaction at the behavioral time scale and then find the evolutionarily stable objectives that result from the outcomes these dynamics produce. We use this framework to ask whether "other-regarding" motivations, which result from a kind of nonselfish objective, can evolve when individuals are engaged in a social interaction that entails a conflict between their material payoffs. We find that, at the evolutionarily stable state, individuals can be other-regarding in that they are motivated to increase their partners' payoff as well as their own. In contrast to previous theories, we find that such motivations can evolve because of their direct effect on fitness and do not require kin selection or a special group structure. We also derive general conditions for the evolutionary stability of other-regarding motivations. Our conditions indicate that other-regarding motivations are more likely to evolve when social interactions and behavioral objectives are both synergistic.

Short TitleProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
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