van Segbroeck2008

The evolution of prompt reaction to adverse ties

S. van Segbroeck, F.C. Santos, A. Nowé, J.M. Pacheco, T. Lenaerts.
BMC Evolutionary Biology 8, 287, 2008.

Background

In recent years it has been found that the combination of evolutionary game theory with population structures modelled in terms of dynamical graphs, in which individuals are allowed to sever unwanted social ties while keeping the good ones, provides a viable solution to the conundrum of cooperation. It is well known that in reality individuals respond differently to disadvantageous interactions. Yet, the evolutionary mechanism determining the individuals' willingness to sever unfavourable ties remains unclear.

Results

We introduce a novel way of thinking about the joint evolution of cooperation and social contacts. The struggle for survival between cooperators and defectors leads to an arms race for swiftness in adjusting social ties, based purely on a self-regarding, individual judgement. Since defectors are never able to establish social ties under mutual agreement, they break adverse ties more rapidly than cooperators, who tend to evolve stable and long-term relations. Ironically, defectors' constant search for partners to exploit leads to heterogeneous networks that improve the survivability of cooperators, compared to the traditional homogenous population assumption.

Conclusion

When communities face the prisoner's dilemma, swift reaction to adverse ties evolves when competition is fierce between cooperators and defectors, providing an evolutionary basis for the necessity of individuals to adjust their social ties. Our results show how our innate resilience to change relates to mutual agreement between cooperators and how "loyalty" or persistent social ties bring along an evolutionary disadvantage, both from an individual and group perspective.

© 2008 Van Segbroeck et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (Link), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This paper in BMC Evol. Biol.

Materials on this page may be the property of the authors and/or journals named.