Competitive altruism, mentalizing, and signaling

Ed Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

One explanation of altruism is that it arises from "mentalizing", the process of understanding the mental states of others. Another is based on sexual selection: altruism is a costly signal of good genes. This paper shows that these two arguments are stronger together in that altruists who can mentalize have a greater ad- vantage over non-altruists when they can signal their type, even though these signals are costly, when such signalling allows better matching opportunities. Finally, it shown how mentalizing leads to higher payoffs for both partners in a long-term relationship, modeled as a repeated game with private monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-292
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Economic Journal: Microeconomics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • JEL C73
  • JEL D64
  • JEL D82


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