Half-Hearted Cooperation: A Theory of the Evolution of Altruistic Preferences

22 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2013

See all articles by Alexander White

Alexander White

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Date Written: March 16, 2013

Abstract

This paper presents an evolutionary model in which altruists and egoists simultaneously survive natural selection. Successive generations of randomly paired agents play a two-stage game consisting first of a choice of technology and second a choice of effort level. This setting induces a form of cooperation if at least one of the pair is an altruist but not when both are egoists. As a result, in the population steady state there is a positive fraction of both types of agent that is a function of the technology and of the altruists’ degree of regard for their opponents.

Keywords: Altruism, Cooperation, Economics and Biology, Evolution of Preferences, Contribution and Free-Riding, Prisoners’ Dilemma, Technology Adoption

JEL Classification: D64, D74, H41, O33, L23

Suggested Citation

White, Alexander, Half-Hearted Cooperation: A Theory of the Evolution of Altruistic Preferences (March 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2234352 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2234352

Alexander White (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management ( email )

Mailbox A-44
Weilun Building
Beijing, 100084
China

HOME PAGE: http://alex-white.net

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