File this one under social economy…
When small rewards become visible trophies of status within a group, male players change their approach in competition, sacrificing their own best interest to serve the needs of the team.
But what they did earn, Pan continues, was “respect and status” among peers. For those carrying a Y-chromosome, an elevated status might boost their chances to reproduce with the group’s females, as well as make other male adversaries think twice about challenging them.
In essence, reputation may help to develop and retain the “alpha male” distinction, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing, since the alpha’s actions may ultimately benefit the group. As Houser told Wired.com, “It’s exciting to discover that competitive impulses, which can sometimes have negative social connotations, also have this very positive upside potential. One wonders if it might be possible to direct the energy from other human drives towards making the world a better place.”