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Altruism, predation and the Samaritan's dilemma

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  • Stefano Dughera

    (EconomiX - UPN - Université Paris Nanterre - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis, University of Torino, Collegio Carlo Alberto)

  • Alain Marciano

    (MRE - Montpellier Recherche en Economie - UM - Université de Montpellier, UM - Université de Montpellier)

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to study the consequences of non-reciprocal or unilateral altruism, that is, of altruism between individuals who have different concern for others. By contrast to what the literature usually shows-that unilateral altruists lead egoists to cooperate, that non-reciprocal altruism destroys altruism or that it generates non-desirable exploitation-we show that unilateral altruism does not forcedly lead egoists to cooperate nor it destroys altruism and that, in some situations, it can even be Pareto improving. By analyzing a simple cooperation game with other-regarding preferences, we find that unilateral altruism gives birth to a Samaritan's Dilemma where egoists predate Samaritans by free-riding on their contribution. Perhaps counterintuitively, we also show that in case "exploited" Samaritans experience a higher subjective well-being than in a classical Prisoners' dilemma. Finally, we derive conditions for the evolutionary stability of both the predators' and Samaritans' behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Dughera & Alain Marciano, 2020. "Altruism, predation and the Samaritan's dilemma," Working Papers hal-02550432, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-02550432
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02550432
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; cooperation; predation; exploitation; Samaritan's dilemma; evolutionary game theory JEL Codes C73 H41 D64 D74;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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