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Journal Article

Quantitative assessment can stabilize indirect reciprocity under imperfect information


Hilbe,  Christian       
Max Planck Research Group Dynamics of Social Behavior (Hilbe), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Schmid, L., Ekbatani, F., Hilbe, C., & Chatterjee, K. (2023). Quantitative assessment can stabilize indirect reciprocity under imperfect information. Nature Communications, 14: 2086. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-37817-x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-FCF6-3
The field of indirect reciprocity investigates how social norms can foster cooperation when individuals continuously monitor and assess each other’s social interactions. By adhering to certain social norms, cooperating individuals can improve their reputation and, in turn, receive benefits from others. Eight social norms, known as the “leading eight," have been shown to effectively promote the evolution of cooperation as long as information is public and reliable. These norms categorize group members as either ’good’ or ’bad’. In this study, we examine a scenario where individuals instead assign nuanced reputation scores to each other, and only cooperate with those whose reputation exceeds a certain threshold. We find both analytically and through simulations that such quantitative assessments are error-correcting, thus facilitating cooperation in situations where information is private and unreliable. Moreover, our results identify four specific norms that are robust to such conditions, and may be relevant for helping to sustain cooperation in natural populations.