Reciprocal altruism  

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"Sharing is rare among the nonhuman primates. It occurs in rudimentary form only in the chimpanzee and perhaps a few other Old World monkeys and apes. But in man it is one of the strongest social traits, reaching levels that match the intense trophallactic exchanges of termites and ants. As a result only man has an economy. His high intelligence and symbolizing ability make true barter possible. Intelligence also permits the exchanges to be stretched out in time, converting them into acts of reciprocal altruism (Trivers, 1971)." --E. O. Wilson, 1975

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In evolutionary biology, reciprocal altruism is a behaviour whereby an organism acts in a manner that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism's fitness, with the expectation that the other organism will act in a similar manner at a later time. The concept was initially developed by Robert Trivers to explain the evolution of cooperation as instances of mutually altruistic acts. The concept is close to the strategy of "tit for tat" used in game theory.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Reciprocal altruism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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