Signaling cooperation, hiding punishment

An interesting paper forthcoming in PNAS – “To Qualify as a Social Partner, Humans Hide Severe Punishment, Although Their Observed Cooperativeness is Decisive.”

Abstract below the fold. 

Conflicts of interest between the community and its members are
at the core of human social dilemmas. If observed selfishness has
future costs, individuals may hide selfish acts but display altruistic
ones, and peers aim at identifying the most selfish persons to avoid
them as future social partners. An interaction involving hiding and
seeking information may be inevitable.We staged an experimental
social-dilemma game in which actors could pay to conceal information
about their contribution, giving, and punishing decisions
from an observer who selects her future social partners from the
actors. The observer could pay to conceal her observation of the
actors. We found sophisticated dynamic strategies on either side.
Actors hide their severe punishment and low contributions but
display high contributions. Observers select high contributors as
social partners; remarkably, punishment behavior seems irrelevant
for qualifying as a social partner. That actors nonetheless pay to
conceal their severe punishment adds a further puzzle to the role of
punishment in human social behavior. Competition between hiding
and seeking information about social behavior may be even more
relevant and elaborate in the real world but usually is hidden from
our eyes.

One Comment on “Signaling cooperation, hiding punishment”

  1. […] Signaling Cooperation, Hiding Punishment – […]

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