Get access

ABSOLUTE FITNESS, RELATIVE FITNESS, AND UTILITY

Authors


Abstract

It is well known that (1) natural selection typically favors an allele with both a large mean fitness and a small variance in fitness; and (2) investors typically prefer a portfolio with both a large mean return and a small variance in returns. In the case of investors, this mean–variance trade-off reflects risk aversion; in the case of evolution, the mathematics is straightforward but the result is harder to intuit. In particular, it is harder to understand where, in the mathematics of natural selection, risk aversion arises. Here I present a result that suggests a simple answer to this question. Although my answer is essentially identical to one offered previously, my path to it differs somewhat from previous approaches. Some may find this new approach easier to intuit.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary