handicap principle


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handicap principle

A hypothesis that the extravagance of an animal’s mating displays proves individual strength, because animals with handicaps do not have the strength for mating dominance.

Example
Huge antlers for deer stags.

The cost or handicap is a virtual guarantee of the honesty of the display; if there were no cost to the display—e.g., proof of the stag’s superiority by fighting other males—there would be rampant cheating, and observers (other stags) would learn to ignore the “false” displays. Because antlers are costly, it would not be worthwhile for a weaker stag to produce large antlers and try to “bluff” his way into mating superiority.
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The team's simulations, based on biological models of dishonesty and the handicap principle, show that deception is the best strategy when the addition of deceitful agents pushes the size of the group to the minimum level required to frustrate the predator enough for it to flee.
One promising approach would be to integrate a paleobiological approach to diet with the handicap principle and life-history theory of evolutionary psychology.
Zahavi (1975) proposed a hypothesis, termed the handicap principle, to explain this apparent female preference for disadvantaged males [26].
case of Zahavi's handicap principle operating in plants (Archetti,
handicap principle (Zahavi, 1975) states that signaling is costly and
Though there has been a surprising lack of research on human fitness displays, let alone those having to do with sports, at least two books in recent years do address the subject: The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, by Geoffrey Miller, and The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle, by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi.
The Zahavis' handicap principle also has to do with fitness displays, and they make a number of references to athletes in their important book.
Zahavi proposes that his handicap principle explains all signals in nature.
In the space of two decades the handicap principle has gone from dismissed, laughable nonsense to being the central explanation underlying all forms of animal communication.
Implicit in the authors' "handicap principle" is the decisive role played by females in sexual, and hence natural, selection.
Sexual selection and the handicap principle. Journal of Theoretical Biology 57:239-242.
Nevertheless, Zahavi (1991) still regards warning coloration as an example of the kind of "signal extravagance" for which his general theory of signal selection, the handicap principle, provides an explanation.