The social structure of cooperation and punishment

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (1):28-29 (2012)

Abstract

The standard theories of cooperation in humans, which depend on repeated interaction and reputation effects among self-regarding agents, are inadequate. Strong reciprocity, a predisposition to participate in costly cooperation and the punishment, fosters cooperation where self-regarding behaviors fail. The effectiveness of socially coordinated punishment depends on individual motivations to participate, which are based on strong reciprocity motives. The relative infrequency of high-cost punishment is a result of the ubiquity of strong reciprocity, not its absence

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