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Criminal Defectors Lead to the Emergence of Cooperation in an Experimental, Adversarial Game

D'Orsogna, MR; Kendall, R; McBride, M; Short, MB; (2013) Criminal Defectors Lead to the Emergence of Cooperation in an Experimental, Adversarial Game. PLoS ONE , 8 (4) , Article e61458. 10.1371/journal.pone.0061458. Green open access

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Abstract

While the evolution of cooperation has been widely studied, little attention has been devoted to adversarial settings wherein one actor can directly harm another. Recent theoretical work addresses this issue, introducing an adversarial game in which the emergence of cooperation is heavily reliant on the presence of “Informants,” actors who defect at first-order by harming others, but who cooperate at second-order by punishing other defectors. We experimentally study this adversarial environment in the laboratory with human subjects to test whether Informants are indeed critical for the emergence of cooperation. We find in these experiments that, even more so than predicted by theory, Informants are crucial for the emergence and sustenance of a high cooperation state. A key lesson is that successfully reaching and maintaining a low defection society may require the cultivation of criminals who will also aid in the punishment of others.

Type: Article
Title: Criminal Defectors Lead to the Emergence of Cooperation in an Experimental, Adversarial Game
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061458
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0061458
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 D'Orsogna et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1539044
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