Punishing Just in Time: Public Cooperation and Economies of Scale
44 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2013
Date Written: July 23, 2013
Punishing defectors is an important mechanism maintaining public cooperation. However, punishment is risky, how can costly punishment arise and evolve? Here is a major problem of explaining cooperative behavior. A computer simulation of the public goods game with increasing returns to scale was conducted. We found that if the returns are large enough punishers will obtain evolutionary advantage and form a lasting threat to the defectors, thus maintaining the order of cooperation. History shows when a nation suffers from calamities, invasion or terrorist, people are much easier to reach consensus of public cooperation and punishing defection. During the prehistoric age, the number of contributors was decisive in collective action such as fighting monstrous floods, hunting large game, and defending tribal territory. These all are examples of cooperation with large returns to scale. Our findings are surprising. It seems to be a delicate design of Nature: the more the need for cooperation, the more frequently it will emerge.
Keywords: Public Goods Game, Cooperation, Social Dilemma, Co-Evolution, Returns to scale, Punishment
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