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Theories of the evolution of cooperative behaviour: A critical survey plus some new results

Author

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  • Rowthorn, Robert E.
  • Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés
  • Rodríguez-Sickert, Carlos

Abstract

Gratuitous cooperation (in favour of non-relatives and without repeated interaction) eludes traditional evolutionary explanations. In this paper we survey the various theories of cooperative behaviour, and we describe our own effort to integrate these theories into a self-contained framework. Our main conclusions are as follows. First: altruistic punishment, conformism and gratuitous cooperation co-evolve, and group selection is a necessary ingredient for the co-evolution to take place. Second: people do not cooperate by mistake, as most theories imply; on the contrary, people knowingly sacrifice themselves for others. Third: in cooperative dilemmas conformism is an expression of preference, not a learning rule. Fourth, group-mutations (e.g., the rare emergence of a charismatic leader that brings order to the group) are necessary to sustain cooperation in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Rowthorn, Robert E. & Guzmán, Ricardo Andrés & Rodríguez-Sickert, Carlos, 2009. "Theories of the evolution of cooperative behaviour: A critical survey plus some new results," MPRA Paper 12574, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12574
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12574/1/MPRA_paper_12574.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
    2. Herbert Gintis, 2001. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Altruism: Gene-Culture Coevolution, and the Internalization of Norms," Working Papers 01-10-058, Santa Fe Institute.
    3. Marcus W. Feldman & Kenichi Aoki & Jochen Kumm, 1996. "Individual Versus Social Learning: Evolutionary Analysis in a Fluctuating Environment," Working Papers 96-05-030, Santa Fe Institute.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raul V. Fabella, 2013. "Moral Hazard and Cooperation in Competing Teams," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201308, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    2. Raul V. Fabella, 2013. "Salience and Cooperation Among Rational Egoists," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201309, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
    3. Annamaria Nese & Patrizia Sbriglia, 2009. "Individuals' Voting Choice and Cooperation in Repeated Social Dilemma Games," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 025, University of Siena.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cooperation; altruism; altruistic punishment; conformism; group-selection;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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