Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Total cooperation among people is not viable, Spanish study finds

Date:
February 14, 2011
Source:
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica
Summary:
A situation where a majority of people cooperate never happens. This is due to the fact that a significant number of individuals never cooperate and if they do it is in response to the decision of their neighbors to cooperate or not, or a result of their mood at the time, according to a new study by researchers in Spain.

A situation where a majority of people cooperate never happens. This is due to the fact that a significant number of individuals never cooperate and if they do it is in response to the decision of their neighbors to cooperate or not, or a result of their mood at the time, according to an experimental study by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).

The objective of this research is to understand how cooperation works in nature in general, and among humans in particular. "From the evolutionary point of view it is very difficult to understand why we would help others when what interests us is helping ourselves," explained the authors of this study, which was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE. One of the most striking conclusions drawn is that there are different types of people: those who always try to help their neighbors (around 5 percent), those who never do so (35 percent), and others who cooperate depending on their mood or according to how their neighbor has behaved previously (60 percent).

"We have proved that in general decisions regarding cooperation do not reflect so much economic incentives as much as they do the fact that the individuals with whom they interact cooperate or not," summed up Professor José A. Cuesta, who carried out this research along with the Full Professor Ángel Sánchez, both from the Mathematics Department at UC3M, together with a team of researchers from the UNED (National University of Distance Learning in Spain) and the Universidad Católica del Norte (Antofagasta, Chile). The results of the study, with implications for physics, economics, psychology, and mathematics and computing, could have practical applications. For example, they can be used to optimize collaboration and innovation networks, where large groups of people or companies participate in a common task, investing their economic capacities or generating knowledge. "In these cases," Sanchez pointed out, "we must foment a generally cooperative atmosphere for the participants, which then has implications for the size of work groups and the need for timely incentives in order to avoid falling into a non-cooperative mind set."

The experiment

The question at hand was determining if, in a dilemma where someone would have to choose between cooperating or not with other persons who were connected through a network, a situation could be achieved in which all or most of the people collaborated. The theories and the computer simulations did not offer a univocal response and in many cases made contradictory predictions; because of this these scientists decided to carry out an experiment with real individuals in such a situation. For this purpose, the researchers asked for volunteers among the student body at the UC3M Leganés campus and had them then interact through a computer programs so that they could see the persons with whom they had to cooperate or not, but keeping their anonymity at all times.

In the instructions given to 169 participants in this experiment, one of the largest carried out to date in experimental economics, words such as cooperate, betray, or let down were not employed in order to avoid inducing certain behavior, but instead choices were indicated by colors. During each round, a player obtained a certain benefit for his/her choice according to what his/her neighbors had chosen and he/she was informed what the others had done or won. The interaction was repeated a certain number of rounds and in two different situations; one in which the neighbors were always the same and another in which they changed after each round. "In this way," the researchers pointed out, "we were able to compare the result when there was an established contact network with what happens when there is not and the individuals interact with different groups."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jelena Grujić, Constanza Fosco, Lourdes Araujo, José A. Cuesta, Angel Sánchez. Social Experiments in the Mesoscale: Humans Playing a Spatial Prisoner's Dilemma. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5 (11): e13749 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013749

Cite This Page:

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica. "Total cooperation among people is not viable, Spanish study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083817.htm>.
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica. (2011, February 14). Total cooperation among people is not viable, Spanish study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083817.htm
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica. "Total cooperation among people is not viable, Spanish study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214083817.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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