Imitating emotions instead of strategies in spatial games elevates social welfare

Attila Szolnoki, Neng Gang Xie, Chao Wang, Matjaž Perc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)


The success of imitation as an evolutionary driving force in spatial games has often been questioned, especially for social dilemmas such as the snowdrift game, where the most profitable one may be the mixed phase sustaining both the cooperative and the defective strategy. Here we reexamine this assumption by investigating the evolution of cooperation in spatial social-dilemma games, where, instead of pure strategies, players can adopt emotional profiles of their neighbors. For simplicity, the emotional profile of each player is determined by two pivotal factors only, namely how it behaves towards less and how towards more successful neighbors. We find that imitating emotions such as goodwill and envy instead of pure strategies from the more successful players reestablishes imitation as a tour de force for resolving social dilemmas on structured populations without any additional assumptions or strategic complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38002
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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