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Costly Signaling Theory

Synonyms

Competitive altruism; Handicap principle; Honest signaling

Definition

“Costly signaling theory” proposes that animals (including humans) may send honest signals about desirable personal characteristics and access to resources through costly biological displays, altruism, or other behaviors that would be hard to fake.

Introduction

The existence of altruism was something of an obstacle for early evolutionary theorists, since an organism that engaged in behavior that came at a great personal cost and seemed to solely benefit other individuals appeared difficult for natural selection to explain. It was not until the introduction of the concept of inclusive fitness, also known as kin selection, by Hamilton in 1964 that evolutionists had a satisfactory theoretical framework for discussing altruism. The concept of kin selection, however, could not account for the many altruistic acts performed for individuals who are not genetic kin. An additional form of altruism, reciprocal altruism...

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Correspondence to Francis T. McAndrew .

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McAndrew, F.T. (2019). Costly Signaling Theory. In: Shackelford, T., Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3483-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3483-1

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