K.U.Leuven - Faculty of Economics and Applied Economics
DTEW - MO_0606 pages:1-20
Unconditional altruism is an enduring puzzle for evolutionary approaches to social behavior. In this paper we argue that costly signaling theory, a well-established framework in biology and economics, may be useful to shed light on the individual differences in human unconditional altruism. Based on costly signaling theory, we propose and show that unconditional altruistic behavior is related to general intelligence. The cost incurred by engaging in unconditional altruism is lower for highly intelligent people than for less intelligent people because they may expect to regain the drained resources. As a result, unconditional altruism can serve as an honest signal of intelligence. Our findings imply that distinguishing altruistic behavior from cooperative behavior in social psychological and economic theories of human behavior might be useful, and that costly signaling theory may provide novel insights on various individual difference variables.