What sets the odds of winning and losing?

Rutte, Claudia; Taborsky, Michael; Brinkhof, Martin W G (2006). What sets the odds of winning and losing? Trends in ecology & evolution, 21(1), pp. 16-21. Amsterdam: Elsevier Current Trends 10.1016/j.tree.2005.10.014

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Social experience influences the outcome of conflicts such that winners are more likely to win again and losers will more likely lose again, even against different opponents. Although winner and loser effects prevail throughout the animal kingdom and crucially influence social structures, the ultimate and proximate causes for their existence remain unknown. We propose here that two hypotheses are particularly important among the potential adaptive explanations: the 'social-cue hypothesis', which assumes that victory and defeat leave traces that affect the decisions of subsequent opponents; and the 'self-assessment hypothesis', which assumes that winners and losers gain information about their own relative fighting ability in the population. We discuss potential methodologies for experimental tests of the adaptive nature of winner and loser effects.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Taborsky, Michael and Brinkhof, Martin




Elsevier Current Trends




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:48

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2013 13:43

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Web of Science ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/20076 (FactScience: 3194)

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