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Negative Reciprocity: The Coevolution of Memes and Genes

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Friedman

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

  • Nirvikar Singh

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Friedman & Nirvikar Singh, 2004. "Negative Reciprocity: The Coevolution of Memes and Genes," Game Theory and Information 0412003, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0412003
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 26
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. 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 588-593, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Friedman, Daniel & Singh, Nirvikar, 2009. "Equilibrium vengeance," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 813-829, July.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    6. Jorgen W. Weibull, 1997. "Evolutionary Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262731215, January.
    7. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    8. Sethi, Rajiv & Somanathan, E., 2003. "Understanding reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-27, January.
    9. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
    10. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 1998. "The Evolution of Strong Reciprocity," Research in Economics 98-08-073e, Santa Fe Institute.
    11. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, January.
    12. Robert W. Rosenthal, 2001. "Trust and social efficiencies," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 6(3), pages 413-428.
    13. Friedman, Daniel, 1991. "Evolutionary Games in Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 637-666, May.
    14. Joel M. Guttman, 2003. "Repeated interaction and the evolution of preferences for reciprocity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 631-656, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Friedman, Daniel & Singh, Nirvikar, 2009. "Equilibrium vengeance," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 813-829, July.
    2. Lauren Cohen & Andrea Frazzini & Christopher J. Malloy, 2012. "Hiring Cheerleaders: Board Appointments of "Independent" Directors," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(6), pages 1039-1058, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Guttman, Joel M., 2013. "On the evolution of conditional cooperation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 15-34.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism; reciprocity; negative reciprocity; coevolution;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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