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Cooperation, conflict and the evolution of communication

Noble, J. (1999) Cooperation, conflict and the evolution of communication. Adaptive Behaviour, 7 (3-4). pp. 349-369. ISSN 1059-7123

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Abstract

This paper presents a general model that covers signaling with and without conflicts of interest between signalers and receivers. Krebs and Dawkins (1984) argued that a conflict of interests will lead to an evolutionary arms race between manipulative signalers and sceptical receivers, resulting in ever more costly signals; whereas common interests will lead to cheap signals or "conspiratorial whispers." Previous simulation models of the evolution of communication have usually assumed either cooperative or competitive contexts. Simple game-theoretic and evolutionary simulation models are presented; they suggest that signaling will evolve only if it is in the interests of both parties. In a model where signalers may inform receivers as ro the value of a binary random variable, if signaling is favored at all, then signalers will always use the cheapest and the second cheapest signal available. Costly signaling arms races do not get started. A more complex evolutionary simulation is described, featuring continuously variable signal strengths and reception thresholds. As the congruence of interests between the parties becomes more clear-cut, successively cheaper signals are observed. The findings support a modified version of Krebs and Dawkins's argument. Several variations on the continuous-signaling model are explored.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: behavioral ecology, communication, competition, coevolution, cooperation, signaling
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Engineering (Leeds) > School of Computing (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:02
Status: Published
Publisher: Sage Publications
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1257

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