Evolution of trust and trustworthiness: social awareness favours personality differences

JM McNamara, PA Stephens, SRX Dall, AI Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Interest in the evolution and maintenance of personality is burgeoning. Individuals of diverse animal species differ in their aggressiveness, fearfulness, sociability and activity. Strong trade-offs, mutation–selection balance, spatio-temporal fluctuations in selection, frequency dependence and good-genes mate choice are invoked to explain heritable personality variation, yet for continuous behavioural traits, it remains unclear which selective force is likely to maintain distinct polymorphisms. Using a model of trust and cooperation, we show how allowing individuals to monitor each other's cooperative tendencies, at a cost, can select for heritable polymorphisms in trustworthiness. This variation, in turn, favours costly ‘social awareness’ in some individuals. Feedback of this sort can explain the individual differences in trust and trustworthiness so often documented by economists in experimental public goods games across a range of cultures. Our work adds to growing evidence that evolutionary game theorists can no longer afford to ignore the importance of real world inter-individual variation in their models.
Translated title of the contributionEvolution of trust and trustworthiness: social awareness favours personality differences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605 - 613
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume276
Issue number1657
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Royal Society of London

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