Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mistakes can explain 'cooperative' behavior

Date:
May 22, 2010
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
How people behave in economic games, where they can choose to be selfish or cooperative, can be explained more easily by 'mistakes' than wanting others to succeed.

How people behave in economic games, where they can choose to be selfish or cooperative, can be explained more easily by 'mistakes' than wanting others to succeed.

Related Articles


The finding comes from four new experiments carried out by researchers from Oxford University, Edinburgh University, and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. A report of the research was recently published in PNAS.

In the four experiments 168 people played games in groups of four where they were able to choose how many of 40 monetary units they wished to contribute to a public project. Players were then rewarded according to the premium put on cooperative behaviour (contributing) as opposed to holding onto their 'money'.

'What we found was that even as we increased the premium on cooperation, so that players made most money by contributing 100 per cent of their money, on average people contributed significantly less than 100 per cent,' said Professor Stuart West of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, one of the leaders of the study. 'In fact even when full cooperation delivered the best financial returns between 66 and 94 per cent of people still saw fellow players as their competitors.'

The research shows that mistakes or 'imperfect behaviour' made by players in a game setting can lead to a systematic bias in how much or little they cooperate.

'Our results suggest that players avoid both completely 'selfish' and 'fully cooperative' behaviour, even if one of these strategies delivers maximum benefit,' said Professor West. 'This could derive from a psychology that avoids extreme behaviours, which could be very costly if they go wrong, or indicate that the sort of simple everyday rules of thumb we use to make these kind of judgements 'misfire' in an intense experimental setting.'

The findings have important implications for evolutionary theory as they challenge the need for new evolutionary theories (such as 'strong reciprocity') to explain how such seemingly 'altruistic' behaviour could have evolved.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oxford. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kummerli et al. Resistance to extreme strategies, rather than prosocial preferences, can explain human cooperation in public goods games. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1000829107

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Mistakes can explain 'cooperative' behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521205753.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2010, May 22). Mistakes can explain 'cooperative' behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521205753.htm
University of Oxford. "Mistakes can explain 'cooperative' behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100521205753.htm (accessed April 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Judge OKs 65-Year Deal Over NFL Concussions

Judge OKs 65-Year Deal Over NFL Concussions

AP (Apr. 23, 2015) A judge has approved a potential $1 billion plan to resolve thousands of NFL concussion lawsuits filed by retired players. The NFL expects 6,000 of nearly 20,000 retired players to suffer from Alzheimer&apos;s disease or moderate dementia someday.(April 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

Newsy (Apr. 21, 2015) The use of complex tools has often been seen as a defining characteristic of humanity, but that notion is now in question. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins