Cooperation and Competition Between Relatives

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5565, pp. 72-75
DOI: 10.1126/science.1065507

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Individuals are predicted to behave more altruistically and less competitively toward their relatives, because they share a relatively high proportion of their genes (e.g., one-half for siblings and one-eighth for cousins). Consequently, by helping a relative reproduce, an individual passes its genes to the next generation, increasing their Darwinian fitness. This idea, termed kin selection, has been applied to a wide range of phenomena in systems ranging from replicating molecules to humans. Nevertheless, competition between relatives can reduce, and even totally negate, the kin-selected benefits of altruism toward relatives. Recent theoretical work has clarified the processes and selective forces underlying this effect and has demonstrated the generality of the effect of competition between relatives.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: stu.west{at}

  • Present address: Theoretical Biology, Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, NL-9751NN Haren, Netherlands.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science