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Negative Reciprocity: The Coevolution of Memes and Genes

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  • Friedman, Daniel
  • Singh, Nirvikar

Abstract

A preference for negative reciprocity is an important part of the human emotional repertoire. We model its role in sustaining cooperative behavior but highlight an intrinsic free-rider problem: the fitness benefits of negative reciprocity are dispersed throughout the entire group, but the fitness costs are borne personally. Evolutionary forces tend to unravel people’s willingness to bear the personal cost of punishing culprits. In our model, the countervailing force that sustains negative reciprocity is a meme consisting of a group norm together with low-powered (and low-cost) group enforcement of the norm. The main result is that such memes coevolve with personal tastes and capacities so as to produce the optimal level of negative reciprocity.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt8n49r3t2.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt8n49r3t2

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Keywords: Altruism; reciprocity; negative reciprocity; coevolution;

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References

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  1. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1989. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 588-93, June.
  2. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, December.
  5. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, December.
  6. Friedman, Daniel & Singh, Nirvikar, 2007. "Equilibrium Vengeance," MPRA Paper 4321, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  8. Friedman, Daniel, 1991. "Evolutionary Games in Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 637-66, May.
  9. Joel M. Guttman, 2003. "Repeated interaction and the evolution of preferences for reciprocity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 631-656, 07.
  10. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  11. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  12. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2003. "Understanding reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-27, January.
  13. Robert W. Rosenthal, 2001. "Trust and social efficiencies," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 413-428.
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel Friedman & Nirvikar Singh, 2002. "Equilibrium Vengeance," CESifo Working Paper Series 766, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Diego Rinallo & Suman Basuroy & Ruhai Wu & Hyo Jeon, 2013. "The Media and Their Advertisers: Exploring Ethical Dilemmas in Product Coverage Decisions," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 425-441, May.
  3. Lauren Cohen & Andrea Frazzini & Christopher Malloy, 2008. "Hiring Cheerleaders: Board Appointments of "Independent" Directors," NBER Working Papers 14232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Friedman, Daniel & Singh, Nirvikar, 2004. "Vengefulness Evolves in Small Groups," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0xp29105, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  5. Guttman, Joel M., 2013. "On the evolution of conditional cooperation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 15-34.
  6. Yannick Thams & Ying Liu & Mary Glinow, 2013. "Asian favors: More than a cookie cutter approach," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 461-486, June.

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