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Group Behavior

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What are polymorphic mating systems?

Polymorphic mating systems are physical characteristics and other mating strategies one sex of a species, usually the male, develops to increase chances of mating.

What is an Evolutionary Stable Strategy (ESS)?

An ESS is the behavioral strategy that provided higher fitness to individuals and became dominant over other strategies over the course of evolution.

What is the Game Theory?

It is the study of cooperative and competitive interactions between individuals with mathematical models. Game theory helps estimate costs and benefits associated with a strategy against others.

What is the hawk-dove game?

Hawk-dove game is a popular example used to illustrate the principles of ESS and practice application of game theory. One player acts as a hawk (competitive) or a dove (cooperative). Playing this game allows comparison of the success of these two strategies for obtaining resources.

What is altruism?

Altruism is the reduction in an organism’s immediate fitness in order to benefit another’s.

List of Materials

  • Cards (4 x 4 inches)
  • Marker
  • Table 1-4 print outs
  • 3 Ring binder
  • Paper bags
  • Plastic cups to hold beads
  • Beads (color 1- for half of the class, 20/student)
  • Beads (color 2- other half of the class, 20/student)

Lab Prep

  1. Creating Materials for the Hawk-Dove Game and Trading Exercise
    • Use card stock paper to create a set of two cards for each student, and label one “dove” and the other “hawk”. NOTE: The cards should be opaque and there should be no obvious differences between the cards.
    • Gather small objects in two colors – beads work well. Make sure there are enough for each student to have 20 of the same color and each half of the class to have a different color.
    • Print the single partner recording table, the multiple partner recording table, and the cheating and cooperation tables so that there is enough for the class. Click Here to download Table 2 Click Here to download Table 3 Click Here to download Table 4
    • Provide the cost benefit table for students to review by printing copies or displaying the table so that students can see it throughout the activities. Click Here to download Table 1
    • Arrange the classroom so that the students can arrange themselves into either two concentric circles or two parallel lines. The lines should have an equal number of students in each line so that partners are sitting across from each other.

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