Individual variation evades the Prisoner's Dilemma

Journal Article

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BMC Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 2


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The Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) is a widely used paradigm to study cooperation in evolutionary biology, as well as in fields as diverse as moral philosophy, sociology, economics and politics. Players are typically assumed to have fixed payoffs for adopting certain strategies, which depend only on the strategy played by the opponent. However, fixed payoffs are not realistic in nature. Utility functions and the associated payoffs from pursuing certain strategies vary among members of a population with numerous factors. In biology such factors include size, age, social status and expected life span; in economics they include socio-economic status, personal preference and past experience; and in politics they include ideology, political interests and public support. Thus, no outcome is identical for any two different players.

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