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Applied Evolutionary Psychology$
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S. Craig Roberts

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199586073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586073.001.0001

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Altruism as showing off: a signalling perspective on promoting green behaviour and acts of kindness

Altruism as showing off: a signalling perspective on promoting green behaviour and acts of kindness

Chapter:
(p.173) Chapter 11 Altruism as showing off: a signalling perspective on promoting green behaviour and acts of kindness
Source:
Applied Evolutionary Psychology
Author(s):

Wendy Iredale

Mark van Vugt

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199586073.003.0011

In this chapter we discuss whether altruism towards genetic strangers may have evolved because of its reputation benefits – altruism as showing off. Traditional explanations for the evolution of altruism towards genetic strangers suggests we help others who will help us back; however, this restricted tit-for-tat scoring is not representative of most human altruism. Recent theories of costly signalling argue that altruism does not need to work directly as a process of 'I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine', but that it may have evolved because it signals underlying qualities about the individual that are important to others. Those who signal altruism may therefore increase their fitness through prestige and mating opportunities. We highlight real examples of how important it is for humans to be seen (and to compete to be seen) as altruistic. We show that there are preferences towards altruistic individuals as mates, especially by females. Finally, we discuss how signaling theory could be applied to promote environmental conservation and charity giving.

Keywords:   altruism, signaling, charity giving, bystander helping, environmental conservation, kindness, mate choice

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