In this paper, several variation operators based on Pareto efficiency, extracted from Differential Evolution, Estimation of Distribution Algorithms, Evolution Strategies and Evolutionary Programming, are compared in order to determine whether or not they increase the performance of the non-Pareto based versions. Firstly, we compare the selected variation operators in pairs, each operator with a modification of itself, in which we remove those elements related to the Pareto efficiency. Then, in a second experiment we compare among the selected operators, the variation operators used in the NSGA-II algorithm and the ones presented by the authors, PBCO and RBMO. In all the experiments the variation operators are incorporated in a well-known algorithm usually considered as a reference for making the comparisons, the NSGA-II algorithm. The experiments show that the Pareto based variation operators selected from the literature do not usually present a better behavior than their non-Pareto based versions; and none of them presents a better performance than the one reached by the variation operators defined by the authors, which were entirely built around the Pareto information of the individuals. These facts suggest that more effort should be placed in the design of variation operators devoted to multi-objective algorithms in order to achieve superior results to those obtained by means of general variation operators. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.