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Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism


Behavioral game theory; Cooperation; Evolutionary psychology; Reciprocity; Theory of mind


Evolution of reciprocal altruism studies the evolutionary basis of cooperation within evolutionary agents (here special focus on Homo sapiens)


Humans (Homo sapiens) are arguably the most cooperative primates (Smith 2003). We display unique characteristics such as cooperating on tasks with non-kin members in large groups across cultures (Tomasello et al. 2005). Human cooperation studies have gathered wide interest from psychologists, evolutionary anthropologists, behavioral ecologists, economists, etc. Humans, therefore, make an interesting case study for reciprocal altruism. In the face of theoretical puzzles around reciprocal altruism, the scale of human cooperative societies seems particularly defiant.

Cooperation in Humans

One common explanation for this seemingly abnormal scale of cooperation was the existence of social norms and the ability to understand...


  • Reciprocal Altruism
  • Normative Social Expectations
  • Abnormal Scale
  • Human Cooperation
  • Primary Cooperatives

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Correspondence to Chinmay Aradhye .

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Aradhye, C. (2016). Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. In: Weekes-Shackelford, V., Shackelford, T., Weekes-Shackelford, V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.

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