Coordinated Punishment Leads to Increased Cooperation in Large Groups

May 01, 2010
Image shows a Maasai tribe at dawn in Kenya. This image is an example of a human society with maintained cooperation. How this cooperation originates and is maintained is the topic of this paper by Boyd and colleagues. Credit: © 2010 JupiterImages Corporation

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans are incredibly cooperative, but why do people cooperate and how is cooperation maintained? A new research study by UCLA anthropology professor Robert Boyd and his colleagues from the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico suggests cooperation in large groups is maintained by punishment.

The finding challenges previous cooperation/punishment models that argue punishment is uncoordinated and unconditional.

Boyd and his team report their research in the April 30 issue of the journal Science. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute's Behavioral Sciences Program, the European Science Foundation and the University of Siena.

To understand the study, let's start with a small group of friends. In small groups, individuals often have personal connections with other group members and cooperation typically is maintained by a "you help me, I'll help you" system. Group members cooperate because they do not want to hurt their friends by not participating in group efforts, and also because they may want help in the future.

But in a larger group, like a tribe, those mechanisms for maintaining cooperation are lost. All group members experience the benefits of the large group, even those members who stop cooperating and become "free-riders." Free-riders are people who benefit from the group in food sharing and protection from enemies, for example, without contributing to food collection or war. In these cases, the personal connection to the group's members is often gone.

But it turns out that most members of large groups cooperate. Why? Boyd and his colleagues suggest cooperation is maintained by punishment, which reduces the benefits to free riding. There are tribes, for example, that punish free-riders who do not participate in warfare by not allowing them to take a bride. Thus, there is the threat of losing societal benefits if a member does not cooperate, which leads to increased group cooperation.

Previous models of cooperation assumed that punishment of free-riders was uncoordinated and unconditional. One problem with these models was that the costs associated with punishment were often higher than the gains of cooperation. Thus, the cost of one group member's punishing a free-rider would be substantial and would not overweigh the gains achieved through increased cooperation.

Costs may be defined as loss of friendship or loss of relational closeness with other members of the group.

To address the problem, Boyd and his colleagues changed the assumptions built into previous cooperation/punishment models. First, they allowed for punishment to be coordinated among group members. In their model, group members could signal their willingness to punish someone who was not participating in the group, but punishment would only occur if it was coordinated. This meant the cost of punishing a free-rider would be distributed across members and would not be higher than the cost of gains achieved through increased cooperation.

Second, the researchers allowed for the cost of punishing a free-rider to decline as the number of punishers increased. Boyd explained that this new model was "catching up with common sense" because these two assumptions exist in reality.

Their model had three stages in which a large group of unrelated individuals interacted repeatedly. The first stage was a signaling stage where group members could signal their intent to punish. In the second stage, group members could choose to cooperate or not. The final stage was a punishment stage when group members could punish other group members.

The results of their model look a lot like what is seen in most human societies, where individuals meet and decide whether and how to punish group members who are not cooperating. This is coordinated punishment where group members signal their intent to punish, only punish when a threshold has been met and share the costs of punishing.

Boyd argues that even in societies without formal institutions for establishing rules and methods of punishment, group appears to be effective at maintaining .

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marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
group punishment appears to be effective at maintaining cooperation.

The AZ law making it a state crime to be in the USA illegally is supported by this study.
zevkirsh
not rated yet Apr 30, 2010
the contrapositive is that the lack of coordinated punishment leads to the lack of coordination of large groups..i.e. the collapse of coordinated groups results from a failure of coordinating previously coordinated punishment patterns.

apply this to the current wall street saga, and you will see that since there is no real coordinated punishment of the 100 or so individual bankers responsible for coordinating the crimes of the 10 or so largest banks , that there will be a collapse in the 'coordination' of our society until a new form of punishment arrives ( i.e. a revolt)
croghan27
3 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
Is not a 'collective' punishment against the Geneva accords? Israel is often accused of imposing 'collective' punishment upon the Palestinians in general for the actions of a few militant.

and ...was there not another Physorg thread about how collective rewards, as in people working together for a common purpose, are demonstrably effective.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
Group punishment worked in Congress in 1994 when the Ds lost power.
Hopefully the politicians that caused the US economic mess will all be punished in NOV.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
The AZ law making it a state crime to be in the USA illegally is supported by this study.
Post proof or retract.
Is not a 'collective' punishment against the Geneva accords? Israel is often accused of imposing 'collective' punishment upon the Palestinians in general for the actions of a few militant.
The group punishment mentioned in the article is not the same as 'collective punishment' as you are speaking of it.
Group punishment worked in Congress in 1994 when the Ds lost power.
Hopefully the politicians that caused the US economic mess will all be punished in NOV.
You mean Phil Gramm, Jim Leach and Thomas J. Bliley Jr.? None of them are in Congress anymore.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
You mean Phil Gramm, Jim Leach and Thomas J. Bliley Jr.? None of them are in Congress anymore.
I mean... We could STILL punish them in November, but you probably don't support criminal charges for political decisions, right?
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
" Illegal immigrants plan to leave Arizona over new immigration law
"http://www.helium...tion-law

Why? AZ has a reputation for enforcing such laws.
Bloodoflamb
4 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
" Illegal immigrants plan to leave Arizona over new immigration law
"http://www.helium...tion-law

Why? AZ has a reputation for enforcing such laws.
Arizona's new law has nothing to do with doling out punishment to induce greater cooperation. They're not looking to make people that want to come to this country free, productive and open members of our society. They'd prefer to seal ourselves off and destroy the very thing that made the US so great in the first place.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
"A Pinal County Sheriff's deputy was shot in the stomach Friday after a traffic stop on Interstate 8, according sheriff's officials."http://www.azcent...ing.html
I think the group, legal AZ residents, will share the costs of punishing illegal residents.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
"A Pinal County Sheriff's deputy was shot in the stomach Friday after a traffic stop on Interstate 8, according sheriff's officials."http://www.azcent...ing.html
I think the group, legal AZ residents, will share the costs of punishing illegal residents.
I'm not sure you really understand this article. I think you thought it sounded like a good example to use in justifying your beliefs (even though isn't) then jumped at the chance to make some sort of political point.
marjon
3 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
The AZ government is doing the right and proper job of any government, protect its citizens. A job the US government has been failing to do do.
Illegal immigrants commit significant crimes in AZ murdering residents and police.
A level 1 trauma center in Tucson was forced to close because of illegal immigrants.
When a government refuses to enforce laws, why should anyone obey any law?
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
Boyd and his colleagues suggest cooperation is maintained by punishment, which reduces the benefits to free riding. There are tribes, for example, that punish free-riders who do not participate in warfare by not allowing them to take a bride. Thus, there is the threat of losing societal benefits if a member does not cooperate, which leads to increased group cooperation.

AZ is punishing the free riders. Something the federal government refuses to do. The federal government WANTS more free riders to vote for politicians who will continue to provide the free ride.
When drivers see a car pulled over for speeding they tend to slow down and cooperate with the law even though they were not stopped.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
http://www.ppic.o...sp?i=815
Male noncitizens born in Mexico - a group much more likely than the overall foreign-born population to include illegal immigrants - have much lower rates of institutionalization than the native-born. U.S.-born men have rates more than eight times higher.
What we found was consistent with our analysis of criminal justice data: Between 2000 and 2005, California cities with a larger share of recent immigrants saw their crime rates fall further than cities with a smaller share. ***This finding is especially strong for violent crime.***
The only reason stories like yours are brought up at all is because it helps to tug on people's heart strings. Sounds like something you'd accuse a liberal of doing, right?
otto1923
not rated yet Apr 30, 2010
The influx of millions of undocumented meso-Americans was a demographic operation, designed to further homogenize the continent. As with all immigration it was made difficult; only the brightest and most ambitious would make it here, find employment, and join society.

But as always, this includes a subset of desperados keen to escape justice, and the two groups are not so different as one might first imagine. Strife in their home countries is created to compel the pragmatic to leave. The process of emigration has always made the human race better; so much more so when used according to Plan.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
The only reason stories like yours are brought up at all is because it helps to tug on people's heart strings.

Heartstrings? I hope these stories make people angry enough to stand up and say they won't take the injustice anymore.
Isn't' that what the 'liberals' say, 'No justice, no peace.'?
BTW, for the umpteenth time for the record, my immigration plan would allow anyone with a valid passport and no criminal record to enter the USA and work or start a business. No welfare, though. After 5 years they must apply for citizenship or go home. This opens the door to ALL of the world, not just those who can walk or be smuggled across the border. It would provide real competition in the USA for ALL jobs and businesses.
marjon
2.5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
"Sheriff To Texas Border Town: 'Arm Yourselves'"
http://www.npr.or...25737965
marjon
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2010
"1,000,000 Strong SUPPORTING Arizona Immigration Law SB1070"
http://www.facebo...58359171
"Nationally, 60% Favor Letting Local Police Stop and Verify Immigration Status"
http://www.rasmus...n_status
Bloodoflamb
not rated yet Apr 30, 2010
BTW, for the umpteenth time for the record, my immigration plan would allow anyone with a valid passport and no criminal record to enter the USA and work or start a business. No welfare, though. After 5 years they must apply for citizenship or go home. This opens the door to ALL of the world, not just those who can walk or be smuggled across the border. It would provide real competition in the USA for ALL jobs and businesses.
Here is some common ground I think we can work from. I agree with essentially all of this. The problem is that many *so called* conservatives would oppose a more open immigration process as it would threaten their own job safety. IT'S CALLED COMPETITION. Be the better worker for the same price, and you have nothing to worry about.
otto1923
5 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
my immigration plan
hee hee troll thinks she came up with something original. Isn't that how green cards work? Damn my finger slipped again and gave you a 4/5. Sorry- you don't deserve it.

As demographic goals have largely been met the borders are going to begin to be closed, domestic marijuana will be legalized and taxed here and there, the Mex drug cartels will begin to lose power and succumb to the military, and Mexico will begin to be more peaceful like Colombia.
Bloodoflamb
not rated yet Apr 30, 2010
Heartstrings? I hope these stories make people angry enough to stand up and say they won't take the injustice anymore.
The main point I was trying to make is that illegal immigrants are no more prone to violent crime than any other portion of the population, so appeals to anecdotal evidence of violent crimes by them is not a very convincing argument. In fact, they are LESS likely to commit violent crime. Maybe we should start corralling up and shipping off white trash, inner city blacks and poor Asians while we're at it.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
The main point I was trying to make is that illegal immigrants are no more prone to violent crime than any other portion of the population,

Why not? They have already broken the law and have zero incentive to follow any laws. Examine the police records of any jurisdiction with many illegal aliens for traffic violations and note how many appear in court. Most cops with experience don't even bother to cite illegal aliens for accidents or traffic violations because they give false IDs and don't show up in court. Why should they?
" Some estimates show illegals now make up half of California's prison population, creating a massive criminal subculture that strains state budgets and creates a nightmare for local police forces.""
http://archive.ne...08.shtml
"Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens. "
http://www.cis.or...704.html
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2010
"John Mullaly, a former homicide detective with the NYPD, shakes his head remembering the INS's futile task in Manhattan's Washington Heights, where Mullaly estimates that 70 percent of the drug dealers and other criminals were illegal. "It's so overwhelming, you can't believe it," he explains. "The INS's workload was astronomical, beyond belief. Usually, they could do nothing." Were Mullaly to threaten a thug in custody that his next stop would be El Salvador unless he cooperated, the criminal just laughed, knowing that immigration authorities would never show up. The message sent to the drug lord and to the community could not be more clear: this is a culture that can't enforce its most basic law of entry. And if policing's broken windows theory is correct, the suspension of one set of rules breeds more universal contempt for the law."
http://www.cis.or...704.html
otto1923
not rated yet May 01, 2010
As always, fugitives are a small minority of immigrants. But their inevitable presence is often used when it is desirable to begin restricting immigration, as when desired demographic goals have been reached. Incidents are publicized and conservative schizo isolationists are incited to respond, in order to assist in changing greater public opinion and passing restrictive new laws... until the next time.
Shootist
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
I guess Western Civilization has forgotten the "punishment of the free-riders" part.

Whatever happened to the Country formerly known as England?
ethergear
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010

A level 1 trauma center in Tucson was forced to close because of illegal immigrants.


You are a liar. Not only is UMC still open, it was never threatened by "illegals." It was threatened by lack of funding.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
I guess Western Civilization has forgotten the "punishment of the free-riders" part.
It depends on how you define `free rider.' Some would argue that anyone who extracts from society more capital than they put in are free riders. For example: CEOs and other executives that receive a disproportionate share of the income of a company without fully paying for their share of the upkeep of the society that has made it possible for them to be so successful. Because, let's be honest here, they didn't ACTUALLY get to where they are now solely because of their own hard work.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
"2001: TMC and UMC have operated a nationally recognized joint Level 1 trauma program for 16 years. TMC is losing $5 million a year and UMC is losing approximately $1.1 million on trauma care. "

"The seven Arizona hospitals that are state-designated Level One Trauma Centers are University Medical Center in Tucson, "
"A second Level One Trauma Center in Tucson closed a few years ago, Taylor said, "because they couldn't afford to keep all the services up and running.""
http://www.dcouri...ID=56101

You are a liar. Not only is UMC still open, it was never threatened by "illegals." It was threatened by lack of funding.

TMC closed due to lack of funding because the US government refused to pay for treating illegal aliens who were in traumatic auto accidents while running the border.
http://www.ncbi.n...15663048
I don't expect an apology.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
I guess Western Civilization has forgotten the "punishment of the free-riders" part.
It depends on how you define `free rider.' Some would argue that anyone who extracts from society more capital than they put in are free riders. For example: CEOs and other executives that receive a disproportionate share of the income of a company without fully paying for their share of the upkeep of the society that has made it possible for them to be so successful. Because, let's be honest here, they didn't ACTUALLY get to where they are now solely because of their own hard work.

The top 50% of income earners in the USA pay ALL federal income taxes.
"In 2007, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 40.4 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.8 percent of adjusted gross income. "
http://www.taxfou...250.html
They pay MORE than their fair share AND they DO create more capital.
'Some who argue' are full of BS.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
JUN 2000, Frank D. Alvarez, CEO of Tucson Medical Center and John Duval, COO of University Medical Center:
"TMC estimates their annual cost for providing emergency care to approximate $5,000,000. "
" We are including case descriptions with this letter that describe some of the patients whom we have treated after they were granted medial "parole" by the INS and allowed entry. These persons often require complex, expensive treatment.

Persons allowed entry for humanitarian reasons are waived across the border. Often one family member is allowed to accompany the patient. No documentation is kept and no time limits are set for the time period in which the patient and accompanying family member can stay in the U.S. for the treatment. On occasion, individuals have refused to return to their own community healthcare system. There also needs to be a source of payment for these patients."
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
As always, fugitives are a small minority of immigrants. But their inevitable presence is often used when it is desirable to begin restricting immigration, as when desired demographic goals have been reached. Incidents are publicized and conservative schizo isolationists are incited to respond, in order to assist in changing greater public opinion and passing restrictive new laws... until the next time.

What fugitives? Illegal alien criminals are not running from anyone because the police will not or are not allowed to chase them.

Otto, is Germany worried that there are more mosques than churches?
Bloodoflamb
4.7 / 5 (3) May 01, 2010
The top 50% of income earners in the USA pay ALL federal income taxes.
"In 2007, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 40.4 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.8 percent of adjusted gross income. "
They pay MORE than their fair share AND they DO create more capital.
'Some who argue' are full of BS.
My father paid nearly $100,000.00 in ADDITIONAL taxes this past year. That was ON TOP of the taxes that he had withheld from his paycheck. Do you think he complained? He didn't! When I discuss issues related to his tax burden, he says that he's simply 'doing his part.'

EVERY SINGLE human being alive today got to where they are because society enabled them to do so. End of story. I don't care how hard one person worked - if they hadn't had the society they lived in, they would not be where they are today. Their success is made possible PARTLY because of their own work, and MOSTLY because of the work of people around them and those that came before them.
ethergear
5 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
I don't expect an apology.


Lol @ apology. This is the internet, duh. I don't expect you to admit you're wrong either.

It's not as though, if we were to somehow purge all the brown people, hospitals would suddenly start running a profit. Funds were short here (long story short) because our legislature is crazy.

I'm not going to evaluate your citations, because they're just strawmen designed to hide the implicit assumption that what ever happened, it was those brown people's fault, which makes it okay to punish them.

I don't know why I'm feeding the troll like this, I guess I just feel strongly about all this xenophobia. I, by the way, am a white man living less that 100 miles from the border.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
I'm not going to evaluate your citations

Truth hurts?
Ignore the truth if you wish. This is supposed to be a science, fact based BBS. I provided facts and you accuse me of lying. So be it.
The fault of TMC closing its level 1 trauma center was due to the federal government not enforcing its immigration laws and even worse, actively ignoring such laws. Coupled with laws requiring emergency rooms to treat all, hospitals are forced to close if they can't pay their bills and the government won't pay theirs.
The federal government has two choices, enforce the law or change the law. AZ chose to change the law and to enforce it.
The response is quite in line with the topic of the article since so many illegals are now really worried the law will be enforced.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
I don't care how hard one person worked -

But they should be rewarded the same as those who do work hard?
We live in society of INDIVIDUAL human beings. Each individual is responsible for paying for the services they receive. Each individual has the opportunity to work hard to obtain what makes them 'happy'. No one should be punished for wanting to work hard for what they want as long as it causes no injury to anyone else.
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
What fugitives? Illegal alien criminals are not running from anyone because the police will not or are not allowed to chase them.
Fugitives from justice in their own country dear.
Otto, is Germany worried that there are more mosques than churches?
Its a big place with lots of people but on the whole I would say yes. Belgium outlaws burqas and switzerland minarets. Demographic quotas are the norm wherever Empire exists (everywhere). The quickest way to enduring peace is the elimination of tribalism by rehomogenizing the species. Rescind the curse of Babel. 

Are you worried that if Xian zealots regain control of the US they'll force you to wear a habit?
croghan27
not rated yet May 01, 2010
I saw a, now lost, YouTube clip of the governor rationalizing why she signed the bill. Apparently Arizona has been complaining to the federal gov't for years about the situation. (Both Repub and Demo administrations) and nothing substantial has been done.

That maybe so ... but it looks like Arizona may be without baseball for a while.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
Apparently Arizona has been complaining to the federal gov't for years about the situation.

The complaints are well documented for anyone who cares to pay attention to reality.
I suspect baseball fans will support AZ even if the owners wimp out.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
Belgium outlaws burqas and switzerland minarets.

And Europe lectures the USA on 'tolerance'. What hypocrites!

Rescind the curse of Babel.

What curse is that? You don't believe such 'fantasies'.
JayK
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
Belgium is Europe, just like Canada is North America?
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010
Belgium is Europe, just like Canada is North America?

French intolerance
Ban on Muslim veil violates religious freedom
http://www.watert...04259973
"Swiss Voters Pass Ban on New Minarets" http://www.cbsnew...08.shtml
"The religious liberty problems in Europe today arise from a variety of sources: lingering intolerance of religion among former communists who have remained in the bureaucracy or have regained power; the general difficulties involved in moving from communism to democracy and instituting the rule of law; ethnic and nationalist conflicts with a strong religious dimension; conflicts within and among religious groups; and widely different conceptions of the meaning of religious liberty and the models of church-state relations. Intolerance on the part of majority religions towards minority religions is just one of several factors that explain infringements of religious liberty
"
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 01, 2010

Link for last quotation:
http://www.usccb....97.shtml
marjon
1 / 5 (2) May 01, 2010
Are you worried that if Xian zealots regain control of the US they'll force you to wear a habit?

I have lived in Ogden, UT and Jeddah. I lived in Catholic areas and Protestant.
I have never met a Christian zealot.
otto1923
4 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
What curse is that? You don't believe such 'fantasies'
Its an 'allegory'. The bible is full of them. The people who composed that book were telling us how to save the world- and you thought it was all about saving your essence for eternity... Even Jesus the holy cartoon character spoke the truth (for once) when he said you can't give the people the message straight on because their heads were hardened- you have to wrap it up in some confection.

Babel describes both the dispersal of the race into different isolated regions and environments which causes genetic divergence; and the perils of trying to build a civilization too quickly, without the proper foundation. The tower fails.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
I have never met a Christian zealot
You madam, are a Xian zealot.
croghan27
4 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
Apparently Arizona has been complaining to the federal gov't for years about the situation.

The complaints are well documented for anyone who cares to pay attention to reality.
I suspect baseball fans will support AZ even if the owners wimp out.


Wimp out is a good term for the owner - he, a big time supporter of the Republicans that brought in the law, now says: "Not me! Not me! I love those wetbac....... er...er.. Hispanics ..."
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
The Hilton in Scottsdale hires Filipino workers on temporary visas to work in their convention center. They are on 6 mo-12mo visas, are forced to stay in certain apartments and bused to work.
Most fade away into the country, get fake IDs and work as live in home health aides because they speak English and usually respect older people.
The racket is pervasive, but the USA does not require an exit visa.
Bloodoflamb
5 / 5 (1) May 02, 2010
The Hilton in Scottsdale hires Filipino workers on temporary visas to work in their convention center. They are on 6 mo-12mo visas, are forced to stay in certain apartments and bused to work.
Most fade away into the country, get fake IDs and work as live in home health aides because they speak English and usually respect older people.
The racket is pervasive, but the USA does not require an exit visa.
They sound like dreadful people.
finitesolutions
not rated yet May 09, 2010
Right now I will never hire americans: legally or ilegally. Americans ( US citizens ) are poor workers stemming from drug usage.Plus they are violent . Stop using drugs, get in shape and I will consider you for some jobs. And I will not pay you dollars of course.