The effect of social preferences on the evolution of cooperation in public good games

Marcus Janssen, Miles Manning, Oyita Udiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Human societies are unique in the level of cooperation among non-kin. Evolutionary models explaining this behavior typically assume pure strategies of cooperation and defection. Behavioral experiments, however, demonstrate that humans are typically conditional co-operators who have other-regarding preferences. Building on existing models on the evolution of cooperation and costly punishment, we use a utilitarian formulation of agent decision making to explore conditions that support the emergence of cooperative behavior. Our results indicate that cooperation levels are significantly lower for larger groups in contrast to the original pure strategy model. Here, defection behavior not only diminishes the public good, but also affects the expectations of group members leading conditional co-operators to change their strategies. Hence defection has a more damaging effect when decisions are based on expectations and not only pure strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1450015
JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Public good games
  • conditional cooperation
  • group selection
  • other-regarding preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering


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