The importance of selection rate in the evolution of cooperation

  • C. P. Roca
  • J. A. Cuesta
  • A. Sánchez


How cooperation emerges in human societies is still a puzzle. Evolutionary game theory has been the standard framework to address this issue. In most models, every individual plays with all others, and then reproduces and dies according to what she earns. This amounts to assuming that selection takes place at a slow pace with respect to the interaction time scale. We show that, quite generally, if selection speeds up, the evolution outcome changes dramatically. Thus, in games such as Harmony, where cooperation is the only equilibrium and the only rational outcome, rapid selection leads to dominance of defectors. Similar non trivial phenomena arise in other binary games and even in more complicated settings such as the Ultimatum game. We conclude that the rate of selection is a key element to understand and model the emergence of cooperation, and one that has so far been overlooked.


European Physical Journal Special Topic Selection Event Evolutionary Game Ultimatum Game Replicator Dynamic 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. P. Roca
    • 1
  • J. A. Cuesta
    • 1
  • A. Sánchez
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Grupo Interdisciplinar de Sistemas Complejos (GISC), Departamento de MatemáticasUniversidad Carlos III de Madrid, Avenida de la UniversidadMadridSpain
  2. 2.Instituto de Biocomputación y Física de Sistemas Complejos (BIFI), Universidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain

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