The Handicap Principle

The Handicap Principle : A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle

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The handicap principle, first proposed by Zahavi about 17 years ago, has in the past several years become widely accepted as a central unifying theory explaining many previously baffling aspects of animal signalling and communication. It is arguably the most important theoretical advance in animal behaviour in recent years. Basically, the theory states that to be effective, signals must be reliable, and to be reliable, they must be costly to the signaller. This fundamental insight is then developed to explain and illuminate much of animal and human behaviour - why the peacock's tail is so ornate, and why antelope will spend energy stetting or leaping into the air, when they see a predator, instead of running away, but also how humans test each others' commitment by imposing burdens during courtship. Signals are paid attention to only if the signal itself imposes a handicap on the signaller that would make cheating impossible or unprofitable, This book explores the very wide-ranging implications of the handicap principle, for predator-prey relations, sexual selection, parent-offspring relations, coalitions and alliances, and the persistence of altruism, in animals and also in human societies and intercellular signalling within multicellular more

Product details

  • Hardback | 302 pages
  • 157.48 x 238.76 x 30.48mm | 612.35g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 158 line illustrations, bibliography
  • 0195100352
  • 9780195100358

Review quote

"Among the most revolutionary and controversial concepts in modern behavioral biology is the handicap principle developed by Zahavi. After initially encountering resistance, it has been receiving increased acceptance for its success in explaining an enormous variety of animal behaviors and anatomical structures, from gazelles' seemingly suicidal displays to men's beards. Read this fine book, and discover what the excitement is all about!"--Jared M. Diamond, Professor of Physiology, University of California at Los Angelesshow more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Gazelle, the Wolf, and the Peacock's Tail. Part I - Partners in Communication. Chapter 1: Predator-Prey Interactions. Chapter 2: Communication Between Rivals. Chapter 3: Mate Selection. Part II - Methods of Communication. Chapter 4: The Fallacy of Species-Specific Signals. Chapter 5: Movement and Ritualization. Chapter 6: Vocalization. Chapter 7: Body Parts That Serve as Signals. Chapter 8: The Use of Color for Showing Off. Chapter 9: Chemical Communications. Part III - The Handicap Principle in Social Systems. Chapter 10: Testing the Bond. Chapter 11: Parents and Offspring. Chapter 12: Babblers, Competition for Prestige, and the Evolution of Altruism. Chapter 13: The Social Insects: Why Help the Queen?. Chapter 14: The Parenting Couple. Chapter 15: Social Amebas (Cellular Slime Molds). Chapter 16: Parasite and Host. Chapter 17: Information Centers. Part IV - Humans. Chapter 18: Humans. Epilogueshow more

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51 ratings
4.29 out of 5 stars
5 47% (24)
4 39% (20)
3 12% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 2% (1)
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