Social diversity and promotion of cooperation in the spatial prisoner's dilemma game

Matjaž Perc, Attila Szolnoki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

475 Citations (Scopus)


The diversity in wealth and social status is present not only among humans, but throughout the animal world. We account for this observation by generating random variables that determine the social diversity of players engaging in the prisoner's dilemma game. Here the term social diversity is used to address extrinsic factors that determine the mapping of game payoffs to individual fitness. These factors may increase or decrease the fitness of a player depending on its location on the spatial grid. We consider different distributions of extrinsic factors that determine the social diversity of players, and find that the power-law distribution enables the best promotion of cooperation. The facilitation of the cooperative strategy relies mostly on the inhomogeneous social state of players, resulting in the formation of cooperative clusters which are ruled by socially high-ranking players that are able to prevail against the defectors even when there is a large temptation to defect. To confirm this, we also study the impact of spatially correlated social diversity and find that cooperation deteriorates as the spatial correlation length increases. Our results suggest that the distribution of wealth and social status might have played a crucial role by the evolution of cooperation amongst egoistic individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011904
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 14 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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