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Evolutionary dynamics of collective action in N-person stag hunt dilemmas

By Jorge M. Pacheco, Francisco C. Santos, Max O. Souza and Brian Skyrms


In the animal world, collective action to shelter, protect and nourish requires the cooperation of group members. Among humans, many situations require the cooperation of more than two individuals simultaneously. Most of the relevant literature has focused on an extreme case, the N-person Prisoner's Dilemma. Here we introduce a model in which a threshold less than the total group is required to produce benefits, with increasing participation leading to increasing productivity. This model constitutes a generalization of the two-person stag hunt game to an N-person game. Both finite and infinite population models are studied. In infinite populations this leads to a rich dynamics that admits multiple equilibria. Scenarios of defector dominance, pure coordination or coexistence may arise simultaneously. On the other hand, whenever one takes into account that populations are finite and when their size is of the same order of magnitude as the group size, the evolutionary dynamics is profoundly affected: it may ultimately invert the direction of natural selection, compared with the infinite population limit

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: The Royal Society
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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