- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
Explaining the emergence and stability of cooperation has been a central challenge in biology, economics and sociology. Unfortunately, the mechanisms known to promote it either require elaborate strategies or hold only under restrictive conditions. Here, we report the emergence, survival, and frequent domination of cooperation in a world characterized by selfishness and a strong temptation to defect, when individuals can accumulate wealth. In particular, we study games with local adaptation such as the prisoner's dilemma, to which we add heterogeneity in payoffs. In our model, agents accumulate wealth and invest some of it in their interactions. The larger the investment, the more can potentially be gained or lost, so that present gains affect future payoffs. We find that cooperation survives for a far wider range of parameters than without wealth accumulation and, even more strikingly, that it often dominates defection. This is in stark contrast to the traditional evolutionary prisoner's dilemma in particular, in which cooperation rarely survives and almost never thrives. With the inequality we introduce, on the contrary, cooperators do better than defectors, even without any strategic behavior or exogenously imposed strategies. These results have important consequences for our understanding of the type of social and economic arrangements that are optimal and efficient. Show more
Journal / seriesPLoS ONE
Pages / Article No.
Organisational unit03784 - Helbing, Dirk / Helbing, Dirk
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