Altruism, Spite, and Greenbeards

Stuart A. West*, Andy Gardner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hamilton's theory of inclusive fitness showed how natural selection could lead to behaviors that decrease the relative fitness of the actor and also either benefit (altruism) or harm (spite) other individuals. However, several fundamental issues in the evolution of altruism and spite have remained contentious. Here, we show how recent work has resolved three key debates, helping clarify how Hamilton's theoretical overview links to real-world examples, in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans: Is the evolution of extreme altruism, represented by the sterile workers of social insects, driven by genetics or ecology? Does spite really exist in nature? And, can altruism be favored between individuals who are not close kin but share a "greenbeard" gene for altruism?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1344
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume327
Issue number5971
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2010

Keywords

  • KIN SELECTION
  • STRONG RECIPROCITY
  • EVOLUTION
  • EUSOCIALITY
  • BACTERIOCINS
  • COOPERATION
  • COMPETITION
  • BEHAVIOUR
  • VIRULENCE
  • MONOGAMY

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