Signalling Among Relatives. III. Talk is cheap.
Bergstrom, Carl T.
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The Sir Philip Sidney game has been used by numerous authors to show how signal cost can facilitate honest signaling among relatives. Here, we demonstrate that, in this game, honest cost-free signals are possible as well, under very general conditions. Moreover, these cost-free signals are better for all participants than the previously explored alternatives. Recent empirical evidence suggests that begging is energetically inexpensive for nestling birds; this finding led some researchers to question the applicability of the costly signaling framework to nestling begging. Our results show that cost-free or inexpensive signals, as observed empirically, fall within the framework of signaling theory.
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