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Know thy neighbor: costly information can hurt cooperation in dynamic networks.

Antonioni A, Cacault MP, Lalive R, Tomassini M - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Cooperation is less likely, however, if people have to pay about half of what they gain from cooperating with a cooperator.Cooperation declines even further if people have to pay a cost that is almost equivalent to the gain from cooperating with a cooperator.Thus, costly information on potential neighbors' actions can undermine the incentive to cooperate in fluid networks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
People need to rely on cooperation with other individuals in many aspects of everyday life, such as teamwork and economic exchange in anonymous markets. We study whether and how the ability to make or break links in social networks fosters cooperate, paying particular attention to whether information on an individual's actions is freely available to potential partners. Studying the role of information is relevant as information on other people's actions is often not available for free: a recruiting firm may need to call a job candidate's references, a bank may need to find out about the credit history of a new client, etc. We find that people cooperate almost fully when information on their actions is freely available to their potential partners. Cooperation is less likely, however, if people have to pay about half of what they gain from cooperating with a cooperator. Cooperation declines even further if people have to pay a cost that is almost equivalent to the gain from cooperating with a cooperator. Thus, costly information on potential neighbors' actions can undermine the incentive to cooperate in fluid networks.

Show MeSH
Total wealth in the population by period as a function of the cost required to discover information on partners.Participants start with an initial endowment of  points each.
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pone-0110788-g004: Total wealth in the population by period as a function of the cost required to discover information on partners.Participants start with an initial endowment of points each.

Mentions: In the following we discuss the effects of costly information on the average number of neighbors of each participant, i.e., the participant's degree. Figure 3 shows the average number of neighbors by period for the different cost treatments. Initially, all individuals have four neighbors in all three conditions. Interestingly, subjects initially sever a number of existing links and average degree decreases from the initial level of four neighbors to a level of just under three neighbors between period 0 and period 3 (see file S1 for a detailed analysis of link proposal decisions). Average degree then increases rapidly and reaches a level of about 6 links in the free-information condition. Average degree increases to a very similar extent in the low-cost condition, with participants having about five neighbors in the final round. Participants who had to pay the high cost also accepted new links but at a much lower rate. Average degree remains below the initial level of four neighbors in the high cost condition. This analysis indicates that the social networks become sparser as the cost of obtaining information on neighbors' actions increases. Related results that tend to confirm this trends by numerical simulations have been published by J. Tanimoto [32], [33]. The total accumulated payoff earned by all members of the population is clearly related to the number of neighbors and the fraction of cooperators. This quantity is shown in Fig. 4 where it is clearly seen that a higher mean degree in a population mainly composed by cooperators is highly favorable for social wealth.


Know thy neighbor: costly information can hurt cooperation in dynamic networks.

Antonioni A, Cacault MP, Lalive R, Tomassini M - PLoS ONE (2014)

Total wealth in the population by period as a function of the cost required to discover information on partners.Participants start with an initial endowment of  points each.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4214703&req=5

pone-0110788-g004: Total wealth in the population by period as a function of the cost required to discover information on partners.Participants start with an initial endowment of points each.
Mentions: In the following we discuss the effects of costly information on the average number of neighbors of each participant, i.e., the participant's degree. Figure 3 shows the average number of neighbors by period for the different cost treatments. Initially, all individuals have four neighbors in all three conditions. Interestingly, subjects initially sever a number of existing links and average degree decreases from the initial level of four neighbors to a level of just under three neighbors between period 0 and period 3 (see file S1 for a detailed analysis of link proposal decisions). Average degree then increases rapidly and reaches a level of about 6 links in the free-information condition. Average degree increases to a very similar extent in the low-cost condition, with participants having about five neighbors in the final round. Participants who had to pay the high cost also accepted new links but at a much lower rate. Average degree remains below the initial level of four neighbors in the high cost condition. This analysis indicates that the social networks become sparser as the cost of obtaining information on neighbors' actions increases. Related results that tend to confirm this trends by numerical simulations have been published by J. Tanimoto [32], [33]. The total accumulated payoff earned by all members of the population is clearly related to the number of neighbors and the fraction of cooperators. This quantity is shown in Fig. 4 where it is clearly seen that a higher mean degree in a population mainly composed by cooperators is highly favorable for social wealth.

Bottom Line: Cooperation is less likely, however, if people have to pay about half of what they gain from cooperating with a cooperator.Cooperation declines even further if people have to pay a cost that is almost equivalent to the gain from cooperating with a cooperator.Thus, costly information on potential neighbors' actions can undermine the incentive to cooperate in fluid networks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
People need to rely on cooperation with other individuals in many aspects of everyday life, such as teamwork and economic exchange in anonymous markets. We study whether and how the ability to make or break links in social networks fosters cooperate, paying particular attention to whether information on an individual's actions is freely available to potential partners. Studying the role of information is relevant as information on other people's actions is often not available for free: a recruiting firm may need to call a job candidate's references, a bank may need to find out about the credit history of a new client, etc. We find that people cooperate almost fully when information on their actions is freely available to their potential partners. Cooperation is less likely, however, if people have to pay about half of what they gain from cooperating with a cooperator. Cooperation declines even further if people have to pay a cost that is almost equivalent to the gain from cooperating with a cooperator. Thus, costly information on potential neighbors' actions can undermine the incentive to cooperate in fluid networks.

Show MeSH