Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Red Queen Hypothesis, The

  • Nicholas PrimaveraEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2663-1



The Red Queen hypothesis is an evolutionary hypothesis that states that all living beings must constantly adjust, evolve, and reproduce while attempting to survive ever-evolving predators.


This hypothesis was first proposed by Leigh Van Valen in 1973. The term “Red Queen” is a reference to a statement made by the Red Queen to Alice, characters in the popular 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, written by Lewis Carol.

The Red Queen Hypothesis and it’s Relevance

The statement that sparked this hypothesis is “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place” (Carroll 1871). Van Valen’s reference is essentially a metaphor for an evolutionary arms race. Predators that undergo a beneficial adaption may spark a change in selection pressure when it comes to a group of prey. This, in turn, would continue in a positive feedback loop, which gives rise to a form of antagonistic coevolution....

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY New PaltzNew PaltzUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Russell Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA