Towards a richer evolutionary game theory

John M McNamara

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

47 Citations (Scopus)


Most examples of the application of evolutionary game theory to problems in biology involve highly simplified models. I contend that it is time to move on and include much more richness in models. In particular, more thought needs to be given to the importance of (i) between-individual variation; (ii) the interaction between individuals, and hence the process by which decisions are reached; (iii) the ecological and life-history context of the situation; (iv) the traits that are under selection, and (v) the underlying psychological mechanisms that lead to behaviour. I give examples where including variation between individuals fundamentally changes predicted outcomes of a game. Variation also selects for real-time responses, again resulting in changed outcomes. Variation can select for other traits, such as choosiness and social sensitivity. More generally, many problems involve coevolution of more than one trait. I identify situations where a reductionist approach, in which a game is isolated from is ecological setting, can be misleading. I also highlight the need to consider flexibility of behaviour, mental states and other issues concerned with the evolution of mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20130544
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number88
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2013

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a richer evolutionary game theory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this