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In his book "The Selfish Gene", Richard Dawkins says that retaliator emerges as an evolutionary stable strategy. But I think dove is also a kind of retaliator and so if dove increases, the hawks and others can exploit them.

Is retaliator an ESS? If not, which strategy is ESS?


  • hawk : They always fight hard and retreat only when injured.

  • doves : They merely threaten in a dignified way and never hurt anyone.

If a hawk fights a dove, dove runs away. If dove meets dove they go on posturing until one of them is tired and retreats. If a hawk meets hawk they fight until someone gets seriously injured or dies.

  • retaliators : A retaliator plays dove at the beginning of every fight. If opponent attacks, he attacks , if opponent behave like a dove he behaves like a dove. When 2 retaliators meet they behave like doves.

  • bully : A bully behave like a hawk until someone hits back. Then, he runs away.

  • prober retaliator : He is like a retaliator but he tries a brief escalation of the contest. He is hawk like if opponent doesn't strike back. If opponent strikes back he behave like a dove. If he is attacked he retaliates.

The pay offs: 50 for winning, 0 for losing, -100 for being seriously injured. and -10 for wasting time in a long contest.

Source: The Selfish Gene

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Why would you label the dove a kind of retaliator? –  fileunderwater Oct 25 '13 at 8:05
Could you please describe the kind of payoff matrix in play and the definition of the different strategies (dove, hawk, retaliator)? –  Remi.b Oct 25 '13 at 8:20
@fileunderwater As retaliators play like doves at the beginning of every fight and 2 doves do exactly the same thing as 2 retaliators will do when they meet. –  biogirl Oct 25 '13 at 8:22
@remi.b Sure. Will edit the question---- –  biogirl Oct 25 '13 at 8:23
@biogirl But that is the whole point of the retaliator - that they behave as dove initially, but then retaliates. Doves don't retaliate (they always back down if challanged) so I dont see the point of labelling them as "...a kind of retaliator". –  fileunderwater Oct 25 '13 at 9:04

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