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Theor Popul Biol. 2008 May;73(3):426-36. doi: 10.1016/j.tpb.2007.12.005. Epub 2007 Dec 23.

Evolutionary stability of first-order-information indirect reciprocity in sizable groups.

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  • 1Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennoudai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Japan.


Indirect reciprocity is considered as a key mechanism for explaining the evolution of cooperation in situations where the same individuals interact only a few times. Under indirect reciprocity, an individual who helps others gets returns indirectly from others who know her good reputation. Recently, many studies have discussed the effect of reputation criteria based only on the former actions of the others (first-order information) and of those based also on the former reputation of opponents of the others (second-order information) on the evolution of indirect reciprocity. In this study, we investigate the evolutionary stability of the indirectly reciprocal strategy (discriminating strategy: DIS), which cooperates only with opponents who have good reputations, in n(>2)-person games where more than two individuals take part in a single group (interaction). We show that in n-person games, DIS is an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) even under the image-scoring reputation criterion, which is based only on first-order information and where cooperations (defections) are judged to be good (bad). This result is in contrast to that of 2-person games where DIS is not an ESS under reputation criteria based only on first-order information.

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