A recent attempt at forging a synthetic view of all these myriad ideas argues that all existing models can be classified into four categories: (1) those that propose direct benefits to the cooperator, (2) those that facilitate reciprocity, (3) those that involve kin selection, and finally (4) those that invoke the so-called greenbeard effect. The last class of models is valid in a scenario where genuine cooperators can recognize each other by some phenotypic traits such as a green beard, for example, which co-occurs with the propensity to cooperate. While much more needs to be done on the theoretical front, empirical studies compatible with testing modern theoretical models are now the rate-limiting step in furthering our understanding of the evolution of cooperation.

See also: Altruism; Kin Selection; Mutualism; Social Behavior.

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