The Impact of Coevolution and Abstention on the Emergence of Cooperation

  • Marcos CardinotEmail author
  • Colm O’Riordan
  • Josephine Griffith
Part of the Studies in Computational Intelligence book series (SCI, volume 792)


This paper explores the Coevolutionary Optional Prisoner’s Dilemma (COPD) game, which is a simple model to coevolve game strategy and link weights of agents playing the Optional Prisoner’s Dilemma game, which is also known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma with voluntary participation. A number of Monte Carlo simulations are performed to investigate the impacts of the COPD game on the emergence of cooperation. Results show that the coevolutionary rules enable cooperators to survive and even dominate, with the presence of abstainers in the population playing a key role in the protection of cooperators against exploitation from defectors. We observe that in adverse conditions such as when the initial population of abstainers is too scarce/abundant, or when the temptation to defect is very high, cooperation has no chance of emerging. However, when the simple coevolutionary rules are applied, cooperators flourish.


Optional Prisoner’s Dilemma game Voluntary participation Evolutionary game theory 



This work was supported by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil). Grant number: 234913/20142.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcos Cardinot
    • 1
    Email author
  • Colm O’Riordan
    • 1
  • Josephine Griffith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Information TechnologyNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

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