Prosperity is associated with instability in dynamical networks

Matteo Cavaliere, Sean Sedwards, Corina E. Tarnita, Martin A. Nowak, Attila Csikász-Nagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social, biological and economic networks grow and decline with occasional fragmentation and re-formation, often explained in terms of external perturbations. We show that these phenomena can be a direct consequence of simple imitation and internal conflicts between 'cooperators' and 'defectors'. We employ a game-theoretic model of dynamic network formation where successful individuals are more likely to be imitated by newcomers who adopt their strategies and copy their social network. We find that, despite using the same mechanism, cooperators promote well-connected highly prosperous networks and defectors cause the network to fragment and lose its prosperity; defectors are unable to maintain the highly connected networks they invade. Once the network is fragmented it can be reconstructed by a new invasion of cooperators, leading to the cycle of formation and fragmentation seen, for example, in bacterial communities and socio-economic networks. In this endless struggle between cooperators and defectors we observe that cooperation leads to prosperity, but prosperity is associated with instability. Cooperation is prosperous when the network has frequent formation and fragmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-138
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume299
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 21 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

Keywords

  • Evolution of cooperation
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Imitation
  • Network dynamics
  • Network formation and fragmentation

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