The emergence of altruism as a social norm


Pereda, M., Branas-Garza, P., Rodriguez-Lara, I. and Sanchez, A. 2017. The emergence of altruism as a social norm. Scientific Reports. 7.
TitleThe emergence of altruism as a social norm
AuthorsPereda, M., Branas-Garza, P., Rodriguez-Lara, I. and Sanchez, A.

Expectations, exerting influence through social norms, are a very strong candidate to explain how complex societies function. In the Dictator game (DG), people expect generous behavior from others even when they cannot enforce any sharing of the pie. Here we assume that people donate following their expectations, and that they update their expectation after playing a DG by reinforcement learning to construct a model that explains the main experimental results in the DG. Full agreement with the experimental results is reached when some degree of mismatch between expectations and donations is added into the model. These results are robust against the presence of envious agents, but affected if we introduce selfish agents that do not update their expectations. Our results point to social norms being on the basis of the generous behavior observed in the DG and also to the wide applicability of reinforcement learning to explain many strategic interactions.

PublisherNature Publishing Group
JournalScientific Reports
Publication dates
Online29 Aug 2017
Print31 Dec 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Jun 2017
Submitted11 Apr 2017
Accepted23 Jun 2017
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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