The power of the weak: When altruism is the equilibrium

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A rational economic analysis complements Grossmann's fearful ape hypothesis. Two examples of mixed-motive games with strong inter-dependence (i.e., weak chirping nestling, boxed pigs) demonstrate that signaling weakness is a dominant strategy. Weakness elicits cooperative, caring response, comprising the equilibrium of the game. In extensive form, a reliable reputation of weakness elicits caring as a sequential equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54
JournalBehavioral and Brain Sciences
StatePublished - 1 May 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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