The validity of the handicap principle in discrete action-response games

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The validity of the handicap principle has spawned much debate in spite of the existence of a formal treatment. Simple models constructed to further investigate the issue were able both to prove and to disprove some of its claims. Here I show with the aid of a more general model, which takes into account both assumptions presented in these previous simple models: (1) that the previous results are not in conflict since they can be obtained as specific cases of this general model; (2) that ESS communication need not use costly signals, that is, even under conflict of interest, the cost of a signal used by a high-quality individual can be zero (or even negative) provided that the cost for low-quality signallers is high enough; (3) that only the cost relative to the benefits of the interaction should be higher for worse signallers; and (4) that in a discrete model the differential cost is only a necessary but not a sufficient condition for evolutionarily stable reliable communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-602
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 21 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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