Short Versus Long Term Benefits and the Evolution of Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma Game

Brede, Markus
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
In this paper I investigate the evolution of cooperation in the prisoner's dilemma when individuals change their strategies subject to performance evaluation of their neighbours over variable time horizons. In the monochrome setting, in which all agents per default share the same performance evaluation rule, weighing past events strongly dramatically enhances the prevalence of cooperators. For co-evolutionary models, in which evaluation time horizons and strategies can co-evolve, I demonstrate that cooperation naturally associates with long-term evaluation of others while defection is typically paired with very short time horizons. Moreover, considering the continuous spectrum in between enhanced and discounted weights of past performance, cooperation is optimally supported when cooperators neither give enhanced weight to past nor more recent events, but simply average payoffs. Payoff averaging is also found to emerge as the dominant strategy for cooperators in co-evolutionary models, thus proposing a natural route to the evolution of cooperation in viscous populations.


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