Review: Game theory of public goods in one-shot social dilemmas without assortment

Marco Archetti, István Scheuring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

139 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We review the theory of public goods in biology. In the N-person prisoner's dilemma, where the public good is a linear function of the individual contributions, cooperation requires some form of assortment, for example due to kin discrimination, population viscosity or repeated interactions. In most social species ranging from bacteria to humans, however, public goods are usually a non-linear function of the contributions, which makes cooperation possible without assortment. More specifically, a polymorphic state can be stable in which cooperators and non-cooperators coexist. The existence of mixed equilibria in public goods games is a fundamental result in the study of cooperation that has been overlooked so far, because of the disproportionate attention given to the two- and N-person prisoner's dilemma. Methods and results from games with pairwise interactions or linear benefits cannot, in general, be extended to the analysis of public goods. Game theory helps explain the production of public goods in one-shot, N-person interactions without assortment, it leads to predictions that can be easily tested and allows a prescriptive approach to cooperation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume299
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 21 2012

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Social Dilemma
Game Theory
game theory
Game theory
prison inmates
Prisoners' Dilemma
Bacteria
Person
Viscosity
viscosity
Interaction
Game
Biological Sciences
prediction
bacteria
Nonlinear Function
Linear Function
Population
Discrimination
Biology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

Cite this

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Review : Game theory of public goods in one-shot social dilemmas without assortment. / Archetti, Marco; Scheuring, István.

In: Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 299, 21.04.2012, p. 9-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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