Evolution and Heterogeneity of Social Preferences

64 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2020 Last revised: 7 Sep 2020

See all articles by Charles Ayoubi

Charles Ayoubi

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship Institute (MTEI)

Boris Thurm

International Institute for Management Development - Enterprise for Society

Date Written: August 12, 2020

Abstract

Why do individuals take different decisions when confronted with similar choices? This paper investigates whether the answer lies in an evolutionary process. Our analysis builds on recent work in evolutionary game theory showing the superiority of a given type of preferences, homo moralis, in fitness games with assortative matching. We adapt the classical definition of evolutionary stability to the case where individuals with distinct preferences coexist in a population. This approach allows us to establish the characteristics of an evolutionarily stable population. Then, introducing an assortment matrix for assortatively matched interactions, we prove the existence of a heterogeneous evolutionarily stable population in 2×2 symmetric fitness games under constant assortment, and we identify the conditions for its existence. Conversely to the classical setting, we find that the favored preferences in a heterogeneous evolutionarily stable population are context-dependent. As an illustration, we discuss when and how an evolutionarily stable population made of both selfish and moral individuals exists in a prisoner’s dilemma. These findings offer a theoretical foundation for the empirically observed diversity of preferences among individuals.

Keywords: Social Preferences, Homo Moralis, Preference Evolution, Evolutionary Game Theory, Assortative Matching, Homophily

JEL Classification: C71, C73

Suggested Citation

Ayoubi, Charles and Thurm, Boris, Evolution and Heterogeneity of Social Preferences (August 12, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3672390 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3672390

Charles Ayoubi (Contact Author)

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship Institute (MTEI) ( email )

Station 5
1015 Lausanne
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://https://people.epfl.ch/charles.ayoubi

Boris Thurm

International Institute for Management Development - Enterprise for Society ( email )

Ch. de Bellerive 23
P.O. Box 915
CH-1001 Lausanne
Switzerland

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