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© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This article provides a definition of kin selection and an explanation of its importance in evolutionary biology, especially in the context of social behaviors. A distinction is drawn between kin selection and natural selection, drawing attention to the fact that kin selection maximizes inclusive fitness through indirect fitness benefits: component of fitness due to the reproductive success of relatives. The article goes on to draw examples from the natural world, which demonstrate the power of Hamilton's rule to explain the evolution of social behaviors, such as altruism and cooperation.

Original publication





Book title

Brenner's Encyclopedia of Genetics: Second Edition

Publication Date



160 - 162