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Abstract. The handicap principle states that stable biological signals must be honest. Here, it is argued that they need only be honest ‘on average’. If signallers employ a number of different signalling strategies at equilibrium, then the handicap principle cannot entirely rule out dishonesty. A formal demonstration of this possibility, using evolutionarily stable strategy techniques, is provided and the conditions that might lead to the evolution of multiple signalling strategies are discussed. It is concluded that the ideal of perfect honesty will almost never be met. © 1993 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Animal Behaviour

Publication Date





759 - 764