Evolution of coordination in pairwise and multi-player interactions via prior commitments

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Upon starting a collective endeavour, it is important to understand your partners’ preferences and how strongly they commit to a common goal. Establishing a prior commitment or agreement in terms of posterior benefits and consequences from those engaging in it provides an important mechanism for securing cooperation. Resorting to methods from Evolutionary Game Theory (EGT), here we analyse how prior commitments can also be adopted as a tool for enhancing coordination when its outcomes exhibit an asymmetric payoff structure, in both pairwise and multi-party interactions. Arguably, coordination is more complex to achieve than cooperation since there might be several desirable collective outcomes in a coordination problem (compared to mutual cooperation, the only desirable collective outcome in cooperation dilemmas). Our analysis, both analytically and via numerical simulations, shows that whether prior commitment would be a viable evolutionary mechanism for enhancing coordination and the overall population social welfare strongly depends on the collective benefit and severity of competition, and more importantly, how asymmetric benefits are resolved in a commitment deal. Moreover, in multi-party interactions, prior commitments prove to be crucial when a high level of group diversity is required for optimal coordination. The results are robust for different selection intensities. Overall, our analysis provides new insights into the complexity and beauty of behavioural evolution driven by humans’ capacity for commitment, as well as for the design of self-organised and distributed multi-agent systems for ensuring coordination among autonomous agents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdaptive Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: T.A.H. is supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (RF-2020-603/9). T.A.H and A.E. are also supported by Future of Life Institute (grant RFP2-154).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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