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The benefits of being seen to help others: indirect reciprocity and reputation-based partner choice

Roberts, G; Raihani, N; Bshary, R; Manrique, HM; Farina, A; Samu, F; Barclay, P; (2021) The benefits of being seen to help others: indirect reciprocity and reputation-based partner choice. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , 376 (1838) , Article 20200290. 10.1098/rstb.2020.0290. Green open access

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Abstract

When one individual helps another, it benefits the recipient and may also gain a reputation for being cooperative. This may induce others to favour the helper in subsequent interactions, so investing in being seen to help others may be adaptive. The best-known mechanism for this is indirect reciprocity (IR), in which the profit comes from an observer who pays a cost to benefit the original helper. IR has attracted considerable theoretical and empirical interest, but it is not the only way in which cooperative reputations can bring benefits. Signalling theory proposes that paying a cost to benefit others is a strategic investment which benefits the signaller through changing receiver behaviour, in particular by being more likely to choose the signaller as a partner. This reputation-based partner choice can result in competitive helping whereby those who help are favoured as partners. These theories have been confused in the literature. We therefore set out the assumptions, the mechanisms and the predictions of each theory for how developing a cooperative reputation can be adaptive. The benefits of being seen to be cooperative may have been a major driver of sociality, especially in humans. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The language of cooperation: reputation and honest signalling’.

Type: Article
Title: The benefits of being seen to help others: indirect reciprocity and reputation-based partner choice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0290
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0290
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Cooperation, partner choice, reputations, indirect reciprocity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137609
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