Indirect reciprocity occurs when the cooperative behavior between two individuals is contingent on their previous behavior toward others. Previous theoretical analysis indicates that indirect reciprocity can evolve if individuals use an image-scoring strategy. In this paper, we show that, when errors are added, indirect reciprocity cannot be based on an image-scoring strategy. However, if individuals use a standing strategy, then cooperation through indirect reciprocity is evolutionarily stable. These two strategies differ with respect to the information to which they attend. While image-scoring strategies only need attend to the actions of others, standing strategies also require information about intent. We speculate that this difference may shed light on the evolvability of indirect reciprocity. Additionally, we show that systems of indirect reciprocity are highly sensitive to the availability of information. Finally, we present a model which shows that if indirect reciprocity were to evolve, selection should also favor trusting behavior in relations between strangers. r 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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