Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 588: Natural selection and social preferences

Jörgen Weibull () and Marcus Salomonsson ()
Additional contact information
Jörgen Weibull: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Marcus Salomonsson: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: A large number of individuals are randomly matched into groups, where each group plays a finite symmetric game. Individuals breed true. The expected number of surviving offspring depends on own material payoff, but may also, due to cooperative breeding and/or reproductive competition, depend on the material payoffs to other group members. The induced population dynamic is equivalent with the replicator dynamic for a game with payoffs derived from those in the original game. We apply this selection dynamic to a number of examples, including prisoners' dilemma games with and without a punishment option, coordination games, and hawk-dove games. For each of these, we compare the outcomes with those obtained under the standard replicator dynamic. By way of a revealed-preference argument, our selection dynamic can explain certain "altruistic" and "spiteful" behaviors that are consistent with individuals having social preferences.

Keywords: Group selection; social preferences; altruism; fairness.

JEL-codes: C72; C73; D64

34 pages, First version: February 28, 2005. Revised: September 27, 2005. Earlier revisions: July 20, 2005, July 19, 2005.

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