TOWARD AN EVOLUTIONARY DEFINITION OF CHEATING
Article first published online: 16 OCT 2013
© 2013 The Author(s). Evolution © 2013 The Society for the Study of Evolution.
Volume 68, Issue 2, pages 318–331, February 2014
How to Cite
Ghoul, M., Griffin, A. S. and West, S. A. (2014), TOWARD AN EVOLUTIONARY DEFINITION OF CHEATING. Evolution, 68: 318–331. doi: 10.1111/evo.12266
- Issue published online: 28 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 16 OCT 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 10 SEP 2013 02:04PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Received: 15 FEB 2013
- intentional language;
- social evolution
The term “cheating” is used in the evolutionary and ecological literature to describe a wide range of exploitative or deceitful traits. Although many find this a useful short hand, others have suggested that it implies cognitive intent in a misleading way, and is used inconsistently. We provide a formal justification of the use of the term “cheat” from the perspective of an individual as a maximizing agent. We provide a definition for cheating that can be applied widely, and show that cheats can be broadly classified on the basis of four distinctions: (i) whether cooperation is an option; (ii) whether deception is involved; (iii) whether members of the same or different species are cheated; and (iv) whether the cheat is facultative or obligate. Our formal definition and classification provide a framework that allow us to resolve and clarify a number of issues, regarding the detection and evolutionary consequences of cheating, as well as illuminating common principles and similarities in the underlying selection pressures.