In recent years, many physicists have used evolutionary game theory combined with a complex systems perspective in an attempt to understand social phenomena and challenges. Prominent among such phenomena is the issue of the emergence and sustainability of cooperation in a networked world of selfish or self-focused individuals. The vast majority of research done by physicists on these questions is theoretical, and is almost always posed in terms of agent-based models. Unfortunately, more often than not such models ignore a number of facts that are well established experimentally, and are thus rendered irrelevant to actual social applications. I here summarize some of the facts that any realistic model should incorporate and take into account, discuss important aspects underlying the relation between theory and experiments, and discuss future directions for research based on the available experimental knowledge.
complex systems; evolutionary game theory; cooperation; behavioral experiments