Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Nonhuman Reciprocal Altruism

  • Gerald CarterEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3055-2



An evolutionarily stable strategy of enforcing cooperation by conditionally helping based on past experience of the recipient’s help.


How does the ruthlessly competitive process of natural selection lead to unselfish traits, such as a tendency to help others? Many birds and mammals give alarm calls that help others escape predators, rather than simply and selfishly running away to get farther from the predator than other group members. Primates spend time and energy grooming the fur of others in their group. Vampire bats regurgitate a portion of their food to feed hungry groupmates, even nonrelatives, which failed to feed. If these costly investments in helping others could have been spent furthering one’s own reproductive success, then why would natural selection reward these behaviors? The puzzle is that cooperative individuals pay a cost to increase the reproductive success of others, while more selfish individuals are...


Repeated Interaction Reciprocal Altruism Indirect Reciprocity Neighboring Territory Generalize Reciprocity 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstitutePanama CityPanama

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Salmon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of RedlandsRedlandsUSA