A simulation study shows that cooperation can emerge as the dominant strategy in a “tragedy of the commons game” when:

  • groups are small
  • there is long term memory (So as to weed out those who cheat.)

As this is a computer simulation game, one has to wonder if human (irrational) behavior will change these results if tested empirically, or if it holds up in a real world context.

Cooperation emerges when groups are small and memories are long, study finds

The tragedy of the commons, a concept described by ecologist Garrett Hardin, paints a grim view of human nature. The theory goes that, if a resource is shared, individuals will act in their own self-interest, but against the interest of the group, by depleting that resource.

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