Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Counterpunishment revisited: an evolutionary approach

Wolff, Irenaeus (2009): Counterpunishment revisited: an evolutionary approach.

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Abstract

Evolutionary game theory has shown that in environments characterised by a social-dilemma situation punishment may be an adaptive behaviour. Experimental evidence closely corresponds to this finding but yields contradictory results on the cooperation-enhancing effect of punishment if players are allowed to retaliate against their punishers. The present study sets out to examine the question of whether cooperation will still be part of an evolutionary stable strategy if we allow for counterpunishment opportunities in a theoretic model and tries to reconcile the seemingly contradictory findings from the laboratory. We find that the apparent contradictions can be explained by a difference in the number of retaliation stages employed (one vs many) and even small differences in the degree of retaliativeness.

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