CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Cruel to be kind: The role of the evolution of altruistic punishment in sustaining human cooperation in public goods games

Kelly L. Cataldo, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Humanities

Dept/Program: Philosophy Politics & Econ

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Brian Skyrms

Date of this Version: 15 April 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.

 

Abstract

People cooperate in public goods games even when an individual’s utility maximizing strategy is to defect. A form of non-institutionalized punishment called altruistic punishment—or strong reciprocity—may explain this cooperative behavior. I consider laboratory experiments of public goods games that provide evidence of altruistic punishment and proximate explanations for that behavior. I also present theories of the evolution of altruistic punishment via group-selection, multi-level selection, and gene and culture co-evolution. Furthermore, I consider criticisms of both laboratory results and evolutionary theories that suggest weaknesses in the current research on altruistic punishment. In sum, we will likely never have a definitive explanation of the origins and evolution of human cooperation. I conclude, however, that altruistic punishment may form an integral part of that trajectory.

Suggested Citation

Cataldo, Kelly L., "Cruel to be kind: The role of the evolution of altruistic punishment in sustaining human cooperation in public goods games" 15 April 2006. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania, https://repository.upenn.edu/curej/5.

Date Posted: 15 May 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.

 

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