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Copyright 2010 The Royal Society

Abstract or Description

We study the handicap principle in terms of the Sir Philip Sidney game. The handicap principle asserts that cost is required to allow for honest signalling in the face of conflicts of interest. We show that the significance of the handicap principle can be challenged from two new directions. Firstly, both the costly signalling equilibrium and certain states of no communication are stable under the replicator dynamics (i.e. standard evolutionary dynamics); however, the latter states are more likely in cases where honest signalling should apply. Secondly, we prove the existence and stability of polymorphisms where players mix between being honest and being deceptive and where signalling costs can be very low. Neither the polymorphisms nor the states of no communication are evolutionarily stable, but they turn out to be more important for standard evolutionary dynamics than the costly signalling equilibrium.



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Published In

Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277, 1689, 1915-1922.