Human cooperation by lethal group competition

Martijn Egas, Ralph Kats, Xander Van Der Sar, Ernesto Reuben, Maurice W. Sabelis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Why humans are prone to cooperate puzzles biologists, psychologists and economists alike. Between-group conflict has been hypothesized to drive within-group cooperation. However, such conflicts did not have lasting effects in laboratory experiments, because they were about luxury goods, not needed for survival (looting). Here, we find within-group cooperation to last when between-group conflict is implemented as all-out war (eliminating the weakest groups). Human subjects invested in helping group members to avoid having the lowest collective pay-off, whereas they failed to cooperate in control treatments with random group elimination or with no subdivision in groups. When the game was repeated, experience was found to promote helping. Thus, not within-group interactions alone, not random group elimination, but pay-off-dependent group elimination was found to drive within-group cooperation in our experiment. We suggest that some forms of human cooperation are maintained by multi-level selection: reciprocity within groups and lethal competition among groups acting together.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number1373
    JournalScientific Reports
    Volume3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 25 2013

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    Psychology
    Survival
    Conflict (Psychology)
    Drive
    Warfare

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

    Cite this

    Egas, M., Kats, R., Van Der Sar, X., Reuben, E., & Sabelis, M. W. (2013). Human cooperation by lethal group competition. Scientific Reports, 3, [1373]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01373

    Human cooperation by lethal group competition. / Egas, Martijn; Kats, Ralph; Van Der Sar, Xander; Reuben, Ernesto; Sabelis, Maurice W.

    In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 3, 1373, 25.03.2013.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Egas, M, Kats, R, Van Der Sar, X, Reuben, E & Sabelis, MW 2013, 'Human cooperation by lethal group competition', Scientific Reports, vol. 3, 1373. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01373
    Egas M, Kats R, Van Der Sar X, Reuben E, Sabelis MW. Human cooperation by lethal group competition. Scientific Reports. 2013 Mar 25;3. 1373. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep01373
    Egas, Martijn ; Kats, Ralph ; Van Der Sar, Xander ; Reuben, Ernesto ; Sabelis, Maurice W. / Human cooperation by lethal group competition. In: Scientific Reports. 2013 ; Vol. 3.
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