The most common assumption in evolutionary game theory is that players should adopt a strategy that warrants the highest payoff. However, recent studies indicate that the spatial selection for cooperation is enhanced if an appropriate fraction of the population chooses the most common rather than the most profitable strategy within the interaction range. Such conformity might be due to herding instincts or crowd behavior in humans and social animals. In a heterogeneous population where individuals differ in their degree, collective influence, or other traits, an unanswered question remains who should conform. Selecting conformists randomly is the simplest choice, but it is neither a realistic nor the optimal one. We show that, regardless of the source of heterogeneity and game parametrization, socially the most favorable outcomes emerge if the masses conform. On the other hand, forcing leaders to conform significantly hinders the constructive interplay between heterogeneity and coordination, leading to evolutionary outcomes that are worse still than if conformists were chosen randomly. We conclude that leaders must be able to create a following for network reciprocity to be optimally augmented by conformity. In the opposite case, when leaders are castrated and made to follow, the failure of coordination impairs the evolution of cooperation.
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