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Social dilemmas, institutions, and the evolution of cooperation

Ed. by Jann, Ben / Przepiorka, Wojtek

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September 2017
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Nash Dynamics, Meritocratic Matching, and Cooperation

Nax, Heinrich H. / Murphy, Ryan O. / Helbing, Dirk


John F Nash (1950) proposed dynamics for repeated interactions according to which agents myopically play individual best-responses against their observations of other agents’ past play. Such dynamics converge to Nash equilibria. Without suitable mechanisms, this means that best-response dynamics can lead to low levels of cooperative behavior and thus to inefficient outcomes in social dilemma games. Here, we discuss the theoretical predictions of these dynamics in a variety of social dilemmas and assess these in light of behavioral evidence. We particularly focus on “meritocratic matching”, a class of mechanisms that leads to both low cooperation (inefficient) and high cooperation (near-efficient) equilibria (Gunnthorsdottir et al. 2010; Nax, Murphy, and Helbing 2014; Nax et al. 2015). Most behavioral theories derived from related social dilemmas cannot explain the behavioral evidence for this class of games, but Nash dynamics provide a very satisfactory explanation. We also argue that Nash dynamics provide a parsimonious account of behavioral results for several different social dilemmas, with the exception of the linear public goods game.

Citation Information

Heinrich H. Nax, Ryan O. Murphy, Dirk Helbing (2017). Nash Dynamics, Meritocratic Matching, and Cooperation. In Ben Jann, Wojtek Przepiorka (Eds.), Social dilemmas, institutions, and the evolution of cooperation (pp. 447–470). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110472974-021

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110472974

Online ISBN: 9783110472974

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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