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Rewards facilitate human cooperation under natural selection
Date:1/29/2014

Evolution of cooperation or how to suppress free riders

University of Vienna has an admirable tradition of investigating conditions promoting the evolution of cooperation. For last decades, research advances at University of Vienna have shed new light on various aspects for sustaining high levels of cooperation. As is well known, it has been an interdisciplinary issue to understand how cooperation can thrive under Darwinian natural selection. Usually, voluntary contribution is costly, and thus, those who free ride on others' contribution are often advantageous over those who contribute.

Social optimum or otherwise collective failure

In the paper, Tatsuya Sasaki and the coauthor Uchida Satoshi (RINRI Institute, Tokyo) investigate how voluntary reward funds can help coordinate cooperators in threshold public good games. In the game a certain amount of public goods is provided if the number of cooperators exceeds a critical point, or otherwise, contribution to the public-good provision ends up extinction. But when and how can high levels of cooperation evolve? The new research, in terms of evolutionary game theory, examines a bypassing policy to overcome the bad end through rewards for cooperative behaviors, such as subsidies and bonus programs. As these rewards are also costly, thus it is very important to investigate under which situations voluntary rewarding can emerge and help achieve a group goal. However, how can we prevent the reward system from being eroded by those who take a free ride on the voluntary fund raising ("second-order free riders")?

Through rise and fall of reward funds

"Finally, the voluntary reward fund falls," says Tatsuya Sasaki. "But ironically, the rewards, which are vanishing through invasion of the second-order free riders aforementioned, complete the evolution towards a stable society of certain cooperation." "Imagine a law for official subsidy which often includes its own expiration
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Contact: Dr. Tatsuya Sasaki
tatsuya.sasaki@univie.ac.at
43-142-775-0774
University of Vienna
Source:Eurekalert

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