The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity
AbstractWhere genetically unrelated members of a group benefit from mutual adherence to a social norm, agents may obey the norm and punish its violators, even when this behavior cannot be justified in terms of self-regarding, outcome-oriented preferences. We call this strong reciprocity. We distinguish this from weak reciprocity, namely reciprocal altruism, tit-for-tat, exchange under complete contracting, and other forms of mutually beneficial cooperation that can be accounted for in terms of self-regarding outcome-oriented preferences. We review compelling evidence for the existence and importance of strong reciprocity in human society. However, where benefits and costs are measured in fitness terms and where the relevant behaviors are governed by genetic inheritance subject to natural selection, it is generally thought that, as a form of altruism, strong reciprocity cannot invade a population of non-reciprocators, nor can it be sustained in a stable population equilibrium. We show that this is not the case, and offer an evolutionary explanation of the phenomenon. As the late Pleistocene is the only period long enough to account for a significant development in modern human gene distributions, we base our model on the structure of interaction among members of the small hunter-gatherer bands that constituted most of the history of Homo sapiens, as revealed by historical and anthropological evidence.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Santa Fe Institute in its series Research in Economics with number 98-08-073e.
Date of creation: Aug 1998
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1399 Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Web page: http://www.santafe.edu/sfi/publications/working-papers.html
More information through EDIRC
Social norms; reciprocity;
Other versions of this item:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
- Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1995.
"On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 58-81, March.
- Theodore C. Bergstrom, . "On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings," ELSE working papers 017, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
- Ted Bergstrom, . "On the Evolution of Altruistic Ethical Rules for Siblings," Papers _023, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
- Alan S. Blinder & Don H. Choi, 1989.
"A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness,"
NBER Working Papers
3105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blinder, Alan S & Choi, Don H, 1990. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1003-15, November.
- Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Krichel).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.