Indirect reciprocity with private noisy and incomplete information Journal Article

Author(s): Hilbe, Christian; Schmid, Laura; Tkadlec, Josef; Chatterjee, Krishnendu; Nowak, Martin A
Article Title: Indirect reciprocity with private noisy and incomplete information
Abstract: Indirect reciprocity explores how humans act when their reputation is at stake, and which social norms they use to assess the actions of others. A crucial question in indirect reciprocity is which social norms can maintain stable cooperation in a society. Past research has highlighted eight such norms, called “leading-eight” strategies. This past research, however, is based on the assumption that all relevant information about other population members is publicly available and that everyone agrees on who is good or bad. Instead, here we explore the reputation dynamics when information is private and noisy. We show that under these conditions, most leading-eight strategies fail to evolve. Those leading-eight strategies that do evolve are unable to sustain full cooperation.Indirect reciprocity is a mechanism for cooperation based on shared moral systems and individual reputations. It assumes that members of a community routinely observe and assess each other and that they use this information to decide who is good or bad, and who deserves cooperation. When information is transmitted publicly, such that all community members agree on each other’s reputation, previous research has highlighted eight crucial moral systems. These “leading-eight” strategies can maintain cooperation and resist invasion by defectors. However, in real populations individuals often hold their own private views of others. Once two individuals disagree about their opinion of some third party, they may also see its subsequent actions in a different light. Their opinions may further diverge over time. Herein, we explore indirect reciprocity when information transmission is private and noisy. We find that in the presence of perception errors, most leading-eight strategies cease to be stable. Even if a leading-eight strategy evolves, cooperation rates may drop considerably when errors are common. Our research highlights the role of reliable information and synchronized reputations to maintain stable moral systems.
Journal Title: PNAS
Volume: 115
Issue 48
ISSN: 1091-6490
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences  
Date Published: 2018-01-01
Start Page: 12241
Open access: no