Evolution of cooperation and altruistic punishment when retaliation is possible

Marcus Janssen, Clint Bushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Altruistic punishment is suggested to explain observed high levels of cooperation among non-kin related humans. However, laboratory experiments as well as ethnographic evidence suggest that people might retaliate if being punished, and that this reduces the level of cooperation. Building on existing models on the evolution of cooperation and altruistic punishment, we explore the consequences of the option of retaliation. We find that cooperation and altruistic punishment does not evolve with larger population levels if the option of retaliation is included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-545
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 7 2008


  • Group selection
  • Public good games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Applied Mathematics


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