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Separating equilibria in continuous signalling games

The Royal Society of London
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  • Costly Signalling
  • Honest Signalling
  • Handicap Principle
  • Separating Equilibrium
  • Indexes
  • Vector Field
  • Mathematics


Much of the theoretical literature on costly signalling concentrates on the separating equilibria of continuous signalling games. At such equilibria, every signaller sends a distinct signal, and signal receivers are able to exactly infer the signaller's condition from the signal sent. In this paper, we introduce a vector-field solution method which simplifies the process of solving for separating equilibria. Using this approach, we show that continuous signalling games can have low-cost separating equilibria despite conflicting interests between signaller and receiver. We find that contrary to prior arguments, honesty does not require wasteful signals. Finally, we examine signalling games in which different signallers have different minimal-cost signals, and provide a mathematical justification for the argument that even non-signalling traits will be exaggerated beyond their phenotypic optimum when they are used by other individuals to judge condition or quality.

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