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When in Rome, Do as the Romans DO: The Coevolution of Altruistic Punishment, Conformist Learning, and Cooperation

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Global IP Fellows Meeting

Carlos Rodriguez-Sickert
Professor, Instituto de Sociología, Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
When in Rome, Do as the Romans DO: The Coevolution of Altruistic Punishment, Conformist Learning, and Cooperation
We model the coevolution of social learning rules and behavioral strategies in the context of a cooperative dilemma, a situation in which individuals must decide whether or not to subordinate their own interests to those of the group. There are two learning rules in our model, conformism and payoff-dependent imitation, which evolve by natural selection; and three behavioral strategies, cooperate, defect, and cooperate and punish defectors, which evolve under the influence of the prevailing learning rules. Group and individual level selective pressures drive evolution.

We also simulate our model for conditions that approximate those in which early hominids lived. Contrary to previous claims, we find that conformism can evolve when the only problem individuals face is a cooperative dilemma. Furthermore, the presence of conformists dramatically increases the group size for which cooperation can be sustained. The results of our model are robust: they hold even when migration rates are high, and when conflict among groups is infrequent.