Coevolution of honest signaling and cooperative norms by cultural group selection

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Evolution of cooperative norms is studied in a population where individual and group level selection are both in operation. Individuals play indirect reciprocity game within their group and follow second order norms. Individuals are norm-followers, and imitate their successful group mates. Aside from direct observation individuals can be informed about the previous actions and reputations by information transferred by others. A potential donor estimates the reputation of a potential receiver either by her own observation or by the opinion of the majority of others (indirect observation). Following a previous study (Scheuring, 2009) we assume that norms determine only the probabilities of actions, and mutants can differ in these probabilities. Similarly, we assume that individuals follow a stochastic information transfer strategy. The central question is whether cooperative norm and honest social information transfer can emerge in a population where initially only non-cooperative norms were present, and the transferred information was not sufficiently honest. It is shown that evolution can lead to a cooperative state where information transferred in a reliable manner, where generous cooperative strategies are dominant. This cooperative state emerges along a sharp transition of norms. We studied the characteristics of actions and strategies in this transition by classifying the stochastic norms, and found that a series of more and more judging strategies invade each other before the stabilization of the so-called generous judging strategy. Numerical experiments on the coevolution of social parameters (e.g. probability of direct observation and the number of indirect observers) reveal that it is advantageous to lean on indirect observation even if information transfer is much noisier than for direct observation, which is because to follow the majorities' opinion suppresses information noise meaningfully.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2010


  • Communication
  • Group selection
  • Human cooperation
  • Indirect altruism
  • Social norm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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