Evolution Punishes Selfish People, Game Theory Study Says

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 16:30 in Psychology & Sociology

Evolution punishes meanies Dreamstime/ Joey Carmichael How long can you get ahead by screwing other people over? Contrary to our Darwinian inclinations, evolution may not be as dog-eat-dog of a world as we thought it was. The selfish can survive for a while, but according to new game theory research, long-term survival requires cooperation. Game theorists were taken aback last year when a paper in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences presented a new breakthrough strategy for the Prisoner's Dilemma, a classic game theory situation that presents two prisoners with the opportunity to either cooperate or betray each other in exchange for lesser sentences, widely studied as a model for economics, psychology and evolutionary biology. Using a strategy called zero-determinant, or ZD (meaning that in the mathematical model, the value called the determinant is set to zero), the paper argued that selfish players could be guaranteed to beat cooperative...

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