Talk:Reciprocal altruism

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Copyright[edit]

submitted by copyright holder. Ian Pitchford 21:39, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Vampire Bat example[edit]

A biologist is needed to clarify what is meant by "blood sharing in the vampire bat". Perhaps an {{attention}} tag should be added, but the article overall is clear so I will just hope a knowledgeable person reads this talk page. --Halidecyphon 10:39, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC)

My knowledge of the Wilkenson 1984 Blood sharing in vampire bats paper suggests that he made sweeping generalizations which have never been coroborated by further evidence. Does anyone know of another study which attempts to confirm that this example actually is a valid form of reciprocal altruism? I acknowledge that his study is cited by many animal behavior scientists as thee example of reciprocal altruism, but I am highly skeptical of his results. Riparian105 03:02, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

"bats feed regurgitated blood to those who have not collected much blood themselves knowing that they themselves may someday benefit from this same donation"

I think that the word "know" sounds a bit anthropomorphistic. We are talking about a bat and as of now, we cannot say for sure whether a bat actually knows, or has any assumptions about future events ;)

Matthias Muenster

Reciprocity v Altruism[edit]

To me Reciprocal Altruism is either an oxymoron or a misnomer. In anthropology, altruism is without reciprocity or benefit of any kind. It is the ultimate act of selflessness, where cognitive acts of selflessness are disassociated from the act of altruism and there is no biological, cultural, political social, or economic benefit of any kind. Whether altruism extends to subconsciousness and therefore innate is arguable. Reciprocity is an assumption that a benefit is returned, either immediately, in the future, or to a common cause. The benefit may be direct or indirect. The act may benefit a cause, a family member, a friend, or something else the individual places value on. Anyway . . . I'll do my research and get back to this article. paradoxos 01:52, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

The way reciprocal altruism is explained in this article is a misnomer. However, that is because this article missed an important point. Reciprocal altruism does NOT work under the explicit expectation of future reciprocity (then it wouldn't be altruism). It works spontaneously and without much initial calculation. People do it for no other reason than feeling good about helping others. The problem is that this articles doesn't distinguish between ultimate and proximate cause. The ultimate EVOLUTIONARY cause of this altruism is that it will benefit the organism through reciprocity, but this is NOT the proximate cause wired into the brain of the organism. Cheater detection kicks in once the other person has shown lack of willingness to help once situations have reversed. But again within the mind it doesn't become a rational calculation as such - it becomes more of an emotional sentiment such as "I wouldn't mind helping him now, but where was he when I needed him?". I'm also quite unsure of the claim that the GROUP of vampire bats excludes cheaters from blood sharing. As I understood it, it was more an individual bat to bat thing. But I'll have to read up on that. But this article is poorly written and needs a serious rewrite. I don't currently have Triver's original article, which would make it a bit easier. But I might give it a go one of these days anyway, if no one protests to any of my points. Esben Agersnap 04:49, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I just gave it an attempt, improving the explanation of reciprocal altruism. It is however done from memory with access to any of my articles on the subject, so I might have uses slightly unconventional terms or ways of describing it. I do however think that the article now stands in much better shape than before, where it was bordering on factually wrong.Esben Agersnap 06:47, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I just did a rewrite of the aspects of reciprocal altruism. I put them all in one section, since they don't seem to merit separate ones. The quotes were not attributed, so I removed them. I also tried to clean up the language and make it more understandable while keeping some of the jargon. I am not familiar with these writings, so I may have created some inaccuracies, but I think the end result is better, at least. wikitheo (talk) 15:16, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Axelrod and Hamilton[edit]

It would be worth mentioning and referencing the work of Axelrod and Hamilton. I am not qualified to append this type information, though.

A new article[edit]

We decided to improve the former article and to elaborate on the theory of Robert Trivers. Since reciprocal altruism hasn´t been shown yet (aside from human recirocal altruism)It was important to us to take out the incorrect example of the vampire bats, to give another two false examples and to explain why these examples don´t hold. The article was written as a project for our course in evolutional game theory and we would like to get feedback from you if you have any. Thanks,

Andreas Harraser and Gady Goldsobel —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gadale (talkcontribs) 16:54, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

Any additions must be sourced. See WP:VERIFY. Also, removing content that is properly sourced is not okay. Apart from that, you are rather free to edit the article, but bear in mind that edits can be reverted if deemed unconstructive. Kotiwalo (talk) 17:04, 25 August 2009 (UTC)


Besides cited additions on the theory part the major changes have been in the examples, which are cited as well. The different views on the vampire bat example are suggested by the data, which is shown in the original paper and just seems to have been interpreted in a "wrong way". The elaboration on the other examples is taken from the papers cited in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Harandre (talkcontribs) 12:21, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Warning calls[edit]

Is there a source for the claims in the section on warning calls, notably that warning calls are easy for predators to identify and that birds giving the calls are less likely to be attacked? This doesn't seem to tie in with the wiki article on 'Alarm signals'.86.162.219.153 (talk) 12:26, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Altruism in conflictless situations.[edit]

Research on altruism focus far too much on situations with interest conflict, largely ignoring conflictless situations. In conflictless situations it is possible to do a favour with neither any personal gain nor any personal loss. When ethologists debunked the old theory of harmonious mutual aid in nature, they ONLY used arguments based on interest conflicts, making modern research on altruism perfectly valid in conflict situations, but leaving the old theory still valid in conflictless situations. The only thing that makes any scientific sense is to consider each situation separately to judge whether or not it contains conflict, with exceptions only for instrumental demonstrativeness conscious or semi-conscious about the existence of other situations (and then only if the being thinks about the other situation or a principle conditioned by the other situation or its analogs). The TV show Human Ape and the book The Ascent of Mind contains documentation of apes being egoistic in conflict situations but altruistic in conflictless situations. Most warning signals in animals are best explained by altruism in conflictless situations. They gain nothing on the warning, but lose nothing on it either, and mutual aid applies as long as there is no conflict and therefore no motifs for deception. Such warning signals are even common in animals that are not naturally social at all, and often extend to other species as well. This aligns with the fact that brains are based on statistical processing and not computer-like inflexibly specialized modules, showing that altruism and empathy are not specific modules but emergent behavior in conflictless situations. There is of course interest conflict and brutality in nature as well, but animal egoism, no matter how solitary the animal normally is, shall be understood as purely as a result of actual interest conflict, and patently NOT as simple indifference to others. There is however one factor involved in altruism that is uniquely human, and that is naïve dupeness. The oldest evidence of care for the sick and disabled is from Dmanisi, Georgia, shortly after proto-humans first left Africa, so it was the Great Decompression that ended rivalry among our ancestors. For almost 2 million years they successfully avoided competition with each other, and that lack of motifs for deception made the genetic memory of what it is like to be duped fade away. The last 7000 years of congestion and rivalry explains why the frequency of autism are increasing, natural selection now favour people with genetic memories of what it is like to be duped, slowly exterminating the uniquely human dupeness. 217.28.207.226 (talk) 09:05, 23 August 2011 (UTC)Martin J Sallberg

See also[edit]

The 'See also' list contains many entries that should be incorporated in the article. Maybe the whole thing should go, with a paragraph or two on 'Context' instead. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:35, 15 February 2013 (UTC)