Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 127–132 | Cite as

Dynamics of the TIT FOR TAT strategy during predator inspection in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

  • Lee Alan Dugatkin


One well-known solution to the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma is the TIT FOR TAT strategy. This strategy has three “characteristics” associated with it. TIT FOR TAT is nice (cooperates on the first move of a game), retaliatory (plays defect against an individual that defected on the prior move), and forgiving (cooperates with an individual which has defected in the past but cooperates in the present). Predator inspection behavior in guppies (Poecilia reticulata) was examined in order to determine whether guppies displayed these three characteristics. Results indicate that while it can be quite difficult to translate the abstract concepts of niceness, retaliation, and forgiveness into measurable behaviors, the data support the hypothesis that guppies display the three characteristics associated with the TIT FOR TAT strategy.

The “selfish herd” and “dilution effect” are discussed as possible alternative explanations for the observed behavior. These hypotheses alone were insufficient to explain the results.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Alan Dugatkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMount Allison UniversitySackvilleCanada

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