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Research shows that 'invisible hand' guides evolution of cooperative turn-taking
Date:7/8/2009

n a mating pair of penguins who both went foraging or both incubated the eggs at the same time, 'tit for tat' would not be enough to evolve the habit of taking turns."

Using evolutionary game theory and computer simulations, Professor Colman and Dr Browning discovered a simple variation of "tit for tat" that explains how turn-taking can evolve in organisms that pursue their individual self-interests robotically.

The researchers state: "Turn-taking is initiated only after a species has evolved at least two genetically different types that behave differently in initial, uncoordinated interactions with others. Then as soon as a pair coordinates by chance, they instinctively begin to play 'tit for tat'. This locks them into mutually beneficial coordinated turn-taking indefinitely. Without genetic diversity, turn-taking cannot evolve in this simple way."

Professor Colman added: "In our simulations, the individuals were computer programs that were not only dumb and robotic but also purely selfish. Nevertheless, they ended up taking turns in perfect coordination. We published indirect evidence for this in 2004; we have now shown it directly and found a simple explanation for it. Our findings confirm that cooperation does not always require benevolence or deliberate planning. This form of cooperation, at least, is guided by an 'invisible hand', as happens so often in Darwin's theory of natural selection."


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Contact: Andrew M. Colman
amc@le.ac.uk
01-162-297-197
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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