is a subdiscipline of evolutionary biology
that is concerned with social behaviours, i.e. those that have fitness consequences for individuals other than the actor. Social behaviours can be categorized according to the fitness consequences they entail for the actor and recipient. A behaviour that increases the direct fitness of the actor is mutually beneficial if the recipient also benefits, and selfish if the recipient suffers a loss. A behaviour that reduces the fitness of the actor is altruistic if the recipient benefits, and spiteful if the recipient suffers a loss.
This classification was proposed by W. D. Hamilton. It is easy to see how natural selection favours mutually beneficial or selfish behaviours. Hamilton's insight was to show how kin selection could explain altruism and spite.
Social Evolution is also the title of an important work by Benjamin Kidd.
- Frank, S.A. (1998). Foundations of social evolution. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ.
- Hamilton, W.D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behaviour I and II. — Journal of Theoretical Biology 7: 1-16 and 17-52.
- Korotayev, Andrey (2004). World Religions and Social Evolution of the Old World Oikumene Civilizations: A Cross-cultural Perspective. First Edition, Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-7734-6310-0.