How Natural Selection Can Create Both Self- and Other-Regarding Preferences, and Networked Minds

Scientific Reports 3: 1480 (2013)

19 Pages Posted: 23 May 2013

See all articles by Thomas Grund

Thomas Grund

ETH Zürich

Christian Waloszek

ETH Zürich

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Date Written: May 21, 2013

Abstract

Biological competition is widely believed to result in the evolution of selfish preferences. The related concept of the "homo economicus" is at the core of mainstream economics. However, there is also experimental and empirical evidence for other-regarding preferences. Here we present a theory that explains both, self-regarding and other-regarding preferences. Assuming conditions promoting non-cooperative behaviour, we demonstrate that intergenerational migration determines whether evolutionary competition results in a "homo economicus" (showing self-regarding preferences) or a "homo socialis" (having other-regarding preferences). Our model assumes spatially interacting agents playing prisoner's dilemmas, who inherit a trait determining "friendliness", but mutations tend to undermine it. Reproduction is ruled by fitness-based selection without a cultural modification of reproduction rates. Our model calls for a complementary economic theory for "networked minds" (the "homo socialis") and lays the foundations for an evolutionarily grounded theory of other-regarding agents, explaining individually different utility functions as well as conditional cooperation.

Keywords: homo economicus, homo socialis, evolutionary game theory

JEL Classification: C72, C73, E19

Suggested Citation

Grund, Thomas and Waloszek, Christian and Helbing, Dirk, How Natural Selection Can Create Both Self- and Other-Regarding Preferences, and Networked Minds (May 21, 2013). Scientific Reports 3: 1480 (2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2267765

Thomas Grund

ETH Zürich

CER-ETH Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich
ZUE F7
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

Christian Waloszek

ETH Zürich ( email )

CER-ETH Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich
ZUE F7
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

Dirk Helbing (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Clausiusstrasse 50
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.coss.ethz.ch

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