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

Fingerprint

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, Martijn ; Kats, Ralph ; Van Der Sar, Xander ; Reuben, Ernesto ; Sabelis, Maurice W. / Human cooperation by lethal group competition. In: Scientific Reports. 2013 ; Vol. 3.
@article{bf402a56386946f8a49bdb9cdff69b60,
title = "Human cooperation by lethal group competition",
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.",
author = "Martijn Egas and Ralph Kats and {Van Der Sar}, Xander and Ernesto Reuben and Sabelis, {Maurice W.}",
year = "2013",
month = "3",
day = "25",
doi = "10.1038/srep01373",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "3",
journal = "Scientific Reports",
issn = "2045-2322",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Human cooperation by lethal group competition

AU - Egas, Martijn

AU - Kats, Ralph

AU - Van Der Sar, Xander

AU - Reuben, Ernesto

AU - Sabelis, Maurice W.

PY - 2013/3/25

Y1 - 2013/3/25

N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84875181594&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84875181594&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1038/srep01373

DO - 10.1038/srep01373

M3 - Article

C2 - 23459158

AN - SCOPUS:84875181594

VL - 3

JO - Scientific Reports

JF - Scientific Reports

SN - 2045-2322

M1 - 1373

ER -