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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.

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Evolution of link type by cost of obtaining information.Links between two cooperators are shaded blue, links between two defectors are shaded solid red, and mixed links are shaded light red. Links between two cooperators displace other link types almost completely in the free information treatment (a). Links among two defectors displace the other link types almost completely in the high-cost treatment (c). The low-cost treatment has either cooperator or defector links, depending on the final state of the network (b).
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pone-0110788-g006: Evolution of link type by cost of obtaining information.Links between two cooperators are shaded blue, links between two defectors are shaded solid red, and mixed links are shaded light red. Links between two cooperators displace other link types almost completely in the free information treatment (a). Links among two defectors displace the other link types almost completely in the high-cost treatment (c). The low-cost treatment has either cooperator or defector links, depending on the final state of the network (b).

Mentions: We now turn to how the cost of obtaining information on neighbors affects the resulting social networks. Fig. 5 displays the topology of networks that formed in the final period. Fig. 5 presents the final topology we obtained in four of the total 12 runs of the experiment. These four topologies are representative of the total we obtained (see Figs. 4, 5, and 6 in the file S1 for all final topologies). Network (a) displays the final network state in cases in which information on neighbors' actions is freely available. This network consists of densely connected cooperators with only a few poorly connected defectors scattered around. Networks (b) and (c) resulted from the low-cost () treatment. They are representative of the two tendencies we observed for this cost value. Players either tended toward a clear majority of cooperators, as in (b) (very similar to in case (a)), or they tended towards a state with many defectors and only a few poorly connected cooperators (see image (c)). Network (d) resulted from the treatment with and is typical of this condition: defectors prevailed in all cases. Interestingly, it appears that the cost is a threshold cost such that for cost values less than the population tends to self-organize in a mainly cooperative structure, while for higher costs people seem to be more conservative and tend toward defection. Information-gathering costs are important for the emergence of cooperation in dynamic anonymous networks.


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

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

Evolution of link type by cost of obtaining information.Links between two cooperators are shaded blue, links between two defectors are shaded solid red, and mixed links are shaded light red. Links between two cooperators displace other link types almost completely in the free information treatment (a). Links among two defectors displace the other link types almost completely in the high-cost treatment (c). The low-cost treatment has either cooperator or defector links, depending on the final state of the network (b).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0110788-g006: Evolution of link type by cost of obtaining information.Links between two cooperators are shaded blue, links between two defectors are shaded solid red, and mixed links are shaded light red. Links between two cooperators displace other link types almost completely in the free information treatment (a). Links among two defectors displace the other link types almost completely in the high-cost treatment (c). The low-cost treatment has either cooperator or defector links, depending on the final state of the network (b).
Mentions: We now turn to how the cost of obtaining information on neighbors affects the resulting social networks. Fig. 5 displays the topology of networks that formed in the final period. Fig. 5 presents the final topology we obtained in four of the total 12 runs of the experiment. These four topologies are representative of the total we obtained (see Figs. 4, 5, and 6 in the file S1 for all final topologies). Network (a) displays the final network state in cases in which information on neighbors' actions is freely available. This network consists of densely connected cooperators with only a few poorly connected defectors scattered around. Networks (b) and (c) resulted from the low-cost () treatment. They are representative of the two tendencies we observed for this cost value. Players either tended toward a clear majority of cooperators, as in (b) (very similar to in case (a)), or they tended towards a state with many defectors and only a few poorly connected cooperators (see image (c)). Network (d) resulted from the treatment with and is typical of this condition: defectors prevailed in all cases. Interestingly, it appears that the cost is a threshold cost such that for cost values less than the population tends to self-organize in a mainly cooperative structure, while for higher costs people seem to be more conservative and tend toward defection. Information-gathering costs are important for the emergence of cooperation in dynamic anonymous networks.

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.

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