Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion

M. Milinski, C. Hilbe, D. Semmann, R. Sommerfeld, J. Marotzke, Nature Communications 7 (2016).

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Abstract
Social dilemmas force players to balance between personal and collective gain. In many dilemmas, such as elected governments negotiating climate-change mitigation measures, the decisions are made not by individual players but by their representatives. However, the behaviour of representatives in social dilemmas has not been investigated experimentally. Here inspired by the negotiations for greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, we experimentally study a collective-risk social dilemma that involves representatives deciding on behalf of their fellow group members. Representatives can be re-elected or voted out after each consecutive collective-risk game. Selfish players are preferentially elected and are hence found most frequently in the "representatives" treatment. Across all treatments, we identify the selfish players as extortioners. As predicted by our mathematical model, their steadfast strategies enforce cooperation from fair players who finally compensate almost completely the deficit caused by the extortionate co-players. Everybody gains, but the extortionate representatives and their groups gain the most.
Publishing Year
Date Published
2016-03-07
Journal Title
Nature Communications
Acknowledgement
We thank the students for participation; H.-J. Krambeck for writing the software for the game; H. Arndt, T. Bakker, L. Becks, H. Brendelberger, S. Dobler and T. Reusch for support; and the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science for funding.
Volume
7
Article Number
10915
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Milinski M, Hilbe C, Semmann D, Sommerfeld R, Marotzke J. Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion. Nature Communications. 2016;7. doi:10.1038/ncomms10915
Milinski, M., Hilbe, C., Semmann, D., Sommerfeld, R., & Marotzke, J. (2016). Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion. Nature Communications, 7. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10915
Milinski, Manfred, Christian Hilbe, Dirk Semmann, Ralf Sommerfeld, and Jochem Marotzke. “Humans Choose Representatives Who Enforce Cooperation in Social Dilemmas through Extortion.” Nature Communications 7 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms10915.
M. Milinski, C. Hilbe, D. Semmann, R. Sommerfeld, and J. Marotzke, “Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion,” Nature Communications, vol. 7, 2016.
Milinski M, Hilbe C, Semmann D, Sommerfeld R, Marotzke J. 2016. Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion. Nature Communications. 7.
Milinski, Manfred, et al. “Humans Choose Representatives Who Enforce Cooperation in Social Dilemmas through Extortion.” Nature Communications, vol. 7, 10915, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, doi:10.1038/ncomms10915.
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