Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Ethnocentric cooperation dominates humanitarian cooperation in the computer… so why does humanitarianism persist?

Posted 23 Aug 2013 / 2

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social SimulationThe Evolutionary Dominance of Ethnocentric Cooperation

Human beings are not always (or completely) engulfed in a war of tribe against tribe. In other words, we are not strictly “ethnocentric” in our cooperation: we are willing to cooperate with those not directly identified as our “in group”. This modeling study suggests that ethnocentric cooperation should dominate naively pluralistic (so-called “humanitarian”) cooperation, so something beyond the mechanisms explored in this model must be at play in human societies.

A Minor Post, Cooperation, Individual-based Models, Kin Selection

2 Comments to "Ethnocentric cooperation dominates humanitarian cooperation in the computer… so why does humanitarianism persist?"

Artem Kaznatcheev 18th October 2015 at 10:15 am

Human beings aren’t always involved in PD interactions, either. They are also not memory-less agents in a square lattice. Finally, the boundaries of in- and out- groups are very unintuitive, it is tempting to assume it is things like language, race, nation, etc but it can just as easily be any other social construct like party-affiliation, social rung, or more abstract blue vs. red.

I don’t think any conclusions should be (seriously) drawn from (just) single simulation studies. They should just shape what questions we ask, and how we make our reasoning more precise.

Chris Jensen 19th October 2015 at 3:59 pm

I totally agree Artem! But the value of these studies is to think about what else might be added to produce what we see in today’s large-scale societies. No knock to your study, just curiosity about what needs to be added next to better understand actual human dynamics. Perhaps we are too complex to ever model in a meaningful way? I hope that’s not the case, although I understand that no model will ever be able to fully incorporate all the factors that produce our groupish behaviors.

I think that an interesting aspect of our group identity is that we belong to a variety of groups that don’t exist in a strict nested hierarchy. Most other biological phenomena do boil down to groups subsumed by larger groups, but we have overlapping and complex group identity. This overlap is what we call colloquially “integration”. Could some advantage of being in an integrated group explain the general trend towards the creation of larger, more diverse , and (at least partially) integrated societies?

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