Competition . . . or Cooperation Notes

Competition . . . or Cooperation Notes - Competition or...

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Competition . . . or Cooperation Adam Brandenburger * Version 01/01/15 “Social cognition refers to the processes involved in understanding and interacting with conspecifics. Its evolution arose out of a complex and dynamic interplay between two opposing factors: on the one hand, cooperation among individuals to form groups can provide enhanced security against predators, better mate choice, and more reliable food resources; on the other hand, competition between group members provides individuals with selective advantages in terms of mate selection and food procurement. An evolution- ary approach to social cognition therefore predicts mechanisms for cooperation, altruism, and other aspects of prosocial behavior, as well as mechanisms for coercion, deception, and manipulation of conspecifics. Classical evolutionary theory emphasized competitive interactions based on the struggle for life and the survival of the fittest, but cooperation is also common between members of the same species and is indeed advantageous for the individuals because it increases their survival fitness.” 1 1 Introduction The words “competition” and “cooperation” have a range of meanings. We will say that two entities (individuals, genes, organizations, nations, . . . ) behave competitively with respect to each other if their respective actions are ones that further their individual interests . We will say that two entities behave cooperatively with respect to each other if their respective actions are ones that further their mutual interest . Economics is very largely based on the assumption that people behave competitively and not cooperatively in the above sense. To the extent that observed behavior appears cooperative — think, for example, of mutual cooperation in setting of a repeated game — this is explained as resulting from extended individual interest. But the evolutionary sciences teach us differently. The leading primatologist Frans de Waal talks about a “propensity to cooperate” 2 that can be traced back to our primate ancestors. 2 Evolutionary Basis of Cooperation De Waal 2 summarizes findings from studies of primate cooperation: Kinship relationships do not limit the extent of cooperation. This has been observed in both chimpanzees and bonobos. * Stern School of Business, Polytechnic School of Engineering, Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Decision Making, Center for Data Science, New York University, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A., [email protected], adambrandenburger.com
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Reciprocity supports cooperation. This basis of cooperation is, perhaps, the closest to the economic mechanism of extended self-interest.
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  • Spring '15
  • Adam
  • Game Theory, Frans de Waal, De Waal, cooperative game theory, Presence of Cooperation

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