Cooperation Via Intimidation: An Emergent System of Mutual Threats can Maintain Social Order

Patrzyk, Piotr Mateusz; Takác, Martin
October 2017
Journal of Artificial Societies & Social Simulation;Oct2017, Vol. 20 Issue 4, p1
Academic Journal
Can human aggressiveness promote peaceful cooperation? Despite the seeming contradiction of these phenomena, our study suggests the answer is yes. We develop two agent-based models of cooperative interactions among aggressive agents threatening each other. In Model 1, we show that aggressive displays performed by dominance-seeking individuals create a system of mutual threats that effectively enforces cooperation and inhibits agents from escalating conflicts. This happens because agents observe each otherfighting, which deters them from attacking each otherdueto aggressive reputations. In Model 2 we extend this effect to third-party interventions showing that forming alliances makes attacks more efficient and promotes the emergence of common rules determining whom to fight against. In such a state, social order is maintained by the existence of moral alliances - groups of agents willing to fight against norm violators. In summary, we argue that reputation for toughness and the aggressive predisposition of humans could have played an important role in the evolution of cooperation and moral systems.


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