Short-Range Mobility and the Evolution of Cooperation: An Experimental Study Articles uri icon

publication date

  • May 2015


  • 5

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2045-2322


  • A pressing issue in biology and social sciences is to explain how cooperation emerges in a population of self-interested individuals. Theoretical models suggest that one such explanation may involve the possibility of changing one's neighborhood by removing and creating connections to others, but this hypothesis has problems when random motion is considered and lacks experimental support. To address this, we have carried out experiments on diluted grids with human subjects playing a Prisoner's Dilemma. In contrast to previous results on purposeful rewiring in relational networks, we have found no noticeable effect of mobility in space on the level of cooperation. Clusters of cooperators form momentarily but in a few rounds they dissolve as cooperators at the boundaries stop tolerating being cheated upon. Our results highlight the difficulties that mobile agents have to establish a cooperative environment in a spatial setting.


  • Mathematics