The evolution of charitable behaviour and the power of reputation

Pat Barclay

in Applied Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586073
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731358 | DOI:
The evolution of charitable behaviour and the power of reputation

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Charitable behaviour is puzzling from an evolutionary perspective: why does such behaviour exist despite its costs, and what causes it to evolve and persist? Answering such questions helps us to promote helping and charitable behaviours. In this chapter, I examine various selective pressures that select for cooperative sentiment and how these might be harnessed to promote helping. In particular, I focus on reputation-based theories (indirect reciprocity, punishment, costly signaling) because these are more novel and important for the generalized helping seen in many humans. I discuss how reputation promotes helping, how to take advantage of its effects, the linkage of cooperative acts with reputational pressures, as well as several important limitations that must be addressed before the science of reputation is mature enough to maximize its effectiveness.

Keywords: altruism; reciprocity; helping; costly signaling; cooperation; applied game theory; reputation

Chapter.  13602 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychology

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