Price’s Hierarchical Equation and the Notion of Group Fitness

  • Ciprian Jeler


It is usually assumed that, when applied to cases with regularly reshuffled, non-overlapping groups whose characters are defined as the average character of their individual members (such as David Sloan Wilson’s well-known trait-group model for the evolution of altruism), Price’s hierarchical equation tracks changes in the average value of individual-level traits and uses a notion of group fitness defined in terms of the number of individuals that groups produce. I argue that this is not necessarily so, and that Price’s equation can be used for estimating the magnitude of the influence of certain factors on the change in the average value of group-level traits and that the notion of group fitness used therein can be defined in terms of groups making more groups.


Price’s equation Group fitness Group selection Multilevel selection Altruism 



This work was supported by a grant of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS—UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2653.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ciprian Jeler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Interdisciplinary Research – Humanities and Social Sciences“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of IaşiIaşiRomania

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