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Competitive Altruism, Mentalizing and Signalling

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  • Ed Hopkins

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Abstract

The human tendency to cooperate with nonkin even in short-run relationships remains a puzzle. Recently it has been hypothesized that altruism may be a byproduct of “mentalizing”, the process of understanding and predicting the mental states of others. Another idea is based on sexual selection: altruism is a costly signal of good genes. The paper shows that these two arguments are stronger when combined in that altruists who can mentalize have a greater advantage over non-altruists when they can signal their type, even though these signals are costly. Further, once such an equilibrium is established, altruists will not be supplanted by mutants who have similar mentalizing abilities but who lack altruism.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh in its series ESE Discussion Papers with number 197.

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Length: 13
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:197

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Keywords: altruism; sexual selection; mentalizing; social preferences; signalling; tournaments; evolution.;

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  1. Garfinkel, Michelle R. & Skaperdas, Stergios (ed.), 2012. "The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Peace and Conflict," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195392777, October.
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