A theory for the evolution of other-regard integrating proximate and ultimate perspectives

Erol Akçay, Jeremy Van Cleve, Marcus W. Feldman, Joan Roughgarden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Although much previous work describes evolutionary mechanisms that promote or stabilize different social behaviors, we still have little understanding of the factors that drive animal behavior proximately. Here we present a modeling approach to answer this question. Our model rests on motivations to achieve objectives as the proximate determinants of behavior. We develop a two-tiered framework by first modeling the dynamics of a social interaction at the behavioral time scale and then find the evolutionarily stable objectives that result from the outcomes these dynamics produce. We use this framework to ask whether "other-regarding" motivations, which result from a kind of nonselfish objective, can evolve when individuals are engaged in a social interaction that entails a conflict between their material payoffs. We find that, at the evolutionarily stable state, individuals can be other-regarding in that they are motivated to increase their partners' payoff as well as their own. In contrast to previous theories, we find that such motivations can evolve because of their direct effect on fitness and do not require kin selection or a special group structure.We also derive general conditions for the evolutionary stability of other-regarding motivations. Our conditions indicate that other-regarding motivations are more likely to evolve when social interactions and behavioral objectives are both synergistic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19061-19066
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 10 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'A theory for the evolution of other-regard integrating proximate and ultimate perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this