ResearchBlogCast #7: Why would we ever cooperate?

ResearchBlogCast 27 Comments
By Dave Munger

ResearchBlogging.orgCooperation is seen not only in humans, but in societies formed by organisms from ants to baboons. But in many cases, it’s difficult to figure out why any individual would want to cooperate. Wouldn’t it be easier just to take what you want without doing any work? While cooperation is good for the group, why is it good for the individual? A new paper demonstrates how cooperation could be beneficial both to groups and individuals.

Each week, Kevin Zelnio, Razib Khan, and I choose one or more journal articles that have been covered by bloggers on to discuss in podcast form. Ideally, you’ll read the blog post first to get a general understanding of the research, then listen to our podcast to hear our impressions. Here is the article we’re discussing this week:

Boyd, R., Gintis, H., & Bowles, S. (2010). Coordinated Punishment of Defectors Sustains Cooperation and Can Proliferate When Rare Science, 328 (5978), 617-620 DOI: 10.1126/science.1183665

Eric Michael Johnson wrote about it on his blog The Primate Diaries:

Punishing Cheaters Promotes the Evolution of Cooperation

Since this remains an experimental project, we’d appreciate any feedback you can offer on the podcast.



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