Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion

Milinski, Manfred and Hilbe, Christian and Semmann, Dirk and Sommerfeld, Ralf and Marotzke, Jochem (2016) Humans choose representatives who enforce cooperation in social dilemmas through extortion. Nature Communications, 7. Article number: 10915 . ISSN 2041-1723

[img] Text
ncomms10915.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (1399Kb)
Official URL:


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.

Item Type: Article
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10915
Uncontrolled Keywords: THEORETICAL PHYSICS, Human, carbon footprint, experimental model, model, statistical model
Subjects: 500 Science > 510 Mathematics > 519 Probabilities & applied mathematics
500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 590 Animals (zoology) > 599 Mammalia (Mammals)
Research Group: Chatterjee Group
SWORD Depositor: Sword Import User
Depositing User: Sword Import User
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 07:59
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2017 09:30

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item