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Refinement of defection strategies stabilizes cooperation

Dahanukar, Neelesh and Watve, Milind (2009) Refinement of defection strategies stabilizes cooperation. In: Current Science, 96 (6). pp. 801-810.

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Cooperation among unrelated individuals is an enduring evolutionary riddle and a number of possible solutions have been suggested. Most of these suggestions attempt to refine cooperative strategies, while little attention is given to the fact that novel defection strategies can also evolve in the population. Especially in the presence of punishment to the defectors and public knowledge of strategies employed by the players, a defecting strategy that avoids getting punished by selectively cooperating only with the punishers can get a selective benefit over non-conditional defectors. Furthermore, if punishment ensures cooperation from such discriminating defectors, defectors who punish other defectors can evolve as well. We show that such discriminating and punishing defectors can evolve in the population by natural selection in a Prisoner’s Dilemma game scenario, even if discrimination is a costly act. These refined defection strategies destabilize unconditional defectors. They themselves are, however, unstable in the population. Discriminating defectors give selective benefit to the punishers in the presence of non-punishers by cooperating with them and defecting with others. However, since these players also defect with other discriminators they suffer fitness loss in the pure population. Among the punishers, punishing cooperators always benefit in contrast to the punishing defectors, as the latter not only defect with other punishing defectors but also punish them and get punished. As a consequence of both these scenarios, punishing cooperators get stabilized in the population. We thus show ironically that refined defection strategies stabilize cooperation. Furthermore, cooperation stabilized by such defectors can work under a wide range of initial conditions and is robust to mistakes.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Current Science
Publisher: Indian academy of sciences
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Indian academy of sciences.
Keywords: Discrimination,evolution of cooperation, evolutionary game theory,punishment,reputation.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Microbiology & Cell Biology
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2010 09:46
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 05:30
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/19950

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