Kin discrimination, negative relatedness, and how to distinguish between selfishness and spite.
Patel M., West SA., Biernaskie JM.
Spiteful behaviors occur when an actor harms its own fitness to inflict harm on the fitness of others. Several papers have predicted that spite can be favored in sufficiently small populations, even when the harming behavior is directed indiscriminately at others. However, it is not clear that truly spiteful behavior could be favored without the harm being directed at a subset of social partners with relatively low genetic similarity to the actor (kin discrimination, causing a negative relatedness between actor and harmed recipient). Using mathematical models, we show that (1) the evolution of spite requires kin discrimination; (2) previous models suggesting indiscriminate spite involve scenarios where the actor gains a direct feedback benefit from harming others, and so the harming is selfish rather than spiteful; (3) extreme selfishness can be favored in small populations (or, more generally, under local competition) because this is where the direct feedback benefit of harming is greatest.