Cooperation in Harsh Environments: The Effects of Noise in Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

L.M.C. Gevers, N. Yorke-Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Interactions in the real world are subject to mistakes and miscommunications. The presence of this noise challenges cooperation, as one party cannot determine whether the other party did not cooperate on purpose. Prisoner’s dilemma strategies like Tit-for-Tat (TFT) perform badly once noise is present. Recent studies that harsh environments promote cooperation do not take noise into account. We show that the adversity of the environment benefits cooperators and can make cooperation more robust against mistakes. Harsher environments also encourage greater generosity to cope with noise. Yet when uncertainty is substantial due to higher probability of mistakes or more potential defectors in the environment, contrite behaviours are the most successful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of BNAIC/BeneLearn 2020
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

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