Individual Heuristics and the Dynamics of Cooperation in Large Groups

DM MESSICK*, W B G Liebrand

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)
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    This article describes computer simulations in which pairs of ''individuals'' in large groups played a prisoners' dilemma game. The individual's choice to cooperate or not was determined by 1 of 3 simple heuristics: tit-for-tat; win-stay, lose-change; or win-cooperate, lose-defect. Wins and losses were determined through the comparison of a play's outcome with the average outcome of the individual's neighbors. The results revealed qualitative differences between small and large groups. Furthermore, the prevalence of cooperation in the population depended in predictable ways on the heuristic used, the values of the payoff matrix, and the details of the social comparison process that framed the outcomes as wins or losses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-145
    Number of pages15
    JournalPsychological Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan-1995



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