Social behavior is often described as altruistic, spiteful, selfish, or mutually beneficial. These terms are appealing, but it has not always been clear how they are defined and what purpose they serve. Here, I show that the distinctions among them arise from the ways in which fitness is partitioned: none can be drawn when the fitness consequences of an action are wholly aggregated, but they manifest clearly when the consequences are partitioned into primary and secondary (neighbourhood) effects. I argue that the primary interaction is the principal source of adaptive design, because (i) it is this interaction that determines the fit of an adaptive and (ii) it is the actor and primary recipients whom an adaptation foremost affects. The categories of social action are thus instrumental to any account of evolved function.
Altruism and spite are pervasive, but widely misconstrued, phenomena.
Altruism has positive effects on recipients of the primary interaction and negative effects on the "neighborhood", whereas spite has the opposite effects.
Only the primary interaction determines the fit of an adaptation.
Thus, altruism and spite are best understood as pertaining to the consequences of actions on those primarily, rather than secondarily, involved.
When appreciated properly, these phenomena help us to recognize adaptive design.
When is it sensible to say that group selection has shaped organismal design? This question has prompted many replies but few credible solutions. This article provides new work that exposes the causal relationships between phenotypes and fitness.
Instructors of large classes often face challenges with student motivation. The classroom incentive structure – grades, extra credit, and instructor and peer acknowledgement – may shape student motivations to engage in their studies.
Written byLindsay Heger, Danielle Jung, Wendy H. Wongon November 15, 2012
How does the way in which a group organizes change the lethality of the group's attacks? In this article, we argue that groups organized vertically as hierarchies are likely to conduct more lethal attacks.