Cost-effective external interference for promoting the evolution of cooperation.

The Anh Han, Long Tran-Thanh

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    The problem of promoting the evolution of cooperative behaviour within populations of selfregarding
    individuals has been intensively investigated across diverse fields of behavioural, social
    and computational sciences. In most studies, cooperation is assumed to emerge from the
    combined actions of participating individuals within the populations, without taking into account
    the possibility of external interference and how it can be performed in a cost-efficient way.
    Here, we bridge this gap by studying a cost-efficient interference model based on evolutionary
    game theory, where an exogenous decision-maker aims to ensure high levels of cooperation
    from a population of individuals playing the one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma, at a minimal cost.
    We derive analytical conditions for which an interference scheme or strategy can guarantee a
    given level of cooperation while at the same time minimising the total cost of investment (for
    rewarding cooperative behaviours), and show that the results are highly sensitive to the intensity
    of selection by interference. Interestingly, we show that a simple class of interference that
    makes investment decisions based on the population composition can lead to significantly more
    cost-efficient outcomes than standard institutional incentive strategies, especially in the case of
    weak selection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number15997 (2018)
    Number of pages9
    JournalNature Scientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2018


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