Weak and Strong Altruism in Trait Groups: Reproductive Suicide, Personal Fitness, and Expected Value

Economics Working Paper No. 316

25 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 1998

See all articles by Gregory B. Pollock

Gregory B. Pollock

University of Bonn - Institute of Economic Theory III

Antonio Cabrales

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences

Abstract

A simple variant of trait group selection, employing predators as the mechanism underlying group selection, supports contingent reproductive suicide as altruism (i.e., behavior lowering personal fitness while augmenting that of another) without kin assortment. The contingent suicidal type may either saturate the population or be polymorphic with a type avoiding suicide, depending on parameters. In addition to contingent suicide, this randomly assorting morph may also exhibit continuously expressed strong altruism (sensu Wilson 1979) usually thought restricted to kin selection. The model will not, however, support a sterile worker caste as such, where sterility occurs before life history events associated with effective altruism; reproductive suicide must remain fundamentally contingent (facultative sensu West Eberhard 1987; Myles 1988) under random assortment. The continuously expressed strong altruism supported by the model may be reinterpreted as probability of arbitrarily committing reproductive suicide, without benefit for another; such arbitrary suicide (a "load" on "adaptive" suicide) is viable only under a more restricted parameter space relative to the necessarily concomitant adaptive contingent suicide.

JEL Classification: C70, Z00

Suggested Citation

Pollock, Gregory B. and Cabrales, Antonio, Weak and Strong Altruism in Trait Groups: Reproductive Suicide, Personal Fitness, and Expected Value. Economics Working Paper No. 316. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=135388 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.135388

Gregory B. Pollock

University of Bonn - Institute of Economic Theory III ( email )

Postfach 2220
D-53012 Bonn
Germany

Antonio Cabrales (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra - Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
(34-93) 542 27 65 (Phone)
(34-93) 542 17 46 (Fax)

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