Group Competition and Cooperation

Group Competition and Cooperation

Researchers from the Universities of Zurich, Lausanne, and Konstanz propose that both repeated interactions and group competition synergistically contribute to fostering cooperation in human evolution, challenging previous explanations. While the prevailing theory emphasizes the role of repeated interactions in promoting cooperation through reputational concerns and punishment of antisocial behavior, empirical evidence suggests cooperative behavior even in non-recurrent and anonymous interactions. An experiment conducted among indigenous people in Papua New Guinea reveals that individuals exhibit significant cooperation within their own community but much less with outsiders. The researchers argue that the simultaneous interaction of repeated interactions and group competition leads to super-additive cooperation, where repeated interactions create intra-group incentives for cooperation, while group competition stabilizes this cooperation by promoting uncooperative behavior towards outsiders. This combined approach suggests that social motives in human history evolved under the influence of both mechanisms.


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Taylor Marks is a certified holistic health coach and professionally trained chef from The Institute of Culinary Education. Her passions include the latest research in health science, culinary arts, holistic wellness, and guiding others towards feeling their best.