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Kin selection may inhibit the evolution of reciprocation

James Marshall, Jonathan Rowe, Kin selection may inhibit the evolution of reciprocation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 222(3). ISSN 0022-5193, pp. 331–335. March 2003. No electronic version available.


Kin selection and reciprocal cooperation provide two candidate explanations for the evolution of cooperation. Models of the evolution of cooperation have typically focussed on one or the other mechanism, despite claims that kin selection could pave the way for the evolution of reciprocal cooperation. We describe a computer simulation model that explicitly supports both kin selection and reciprocal cooperation. The model simulates a viscous population of discrete individuals with social interaction taking the form of the Prisoner's Dilemma and selection acting on performance in these interactions. We recount how the analytical and empirical study of this model led to the conclusion that kin selection may actually inhibit the evolution of effective strategies for establishing reciprocal cooperation.

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