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Assortment, but not knowledge of assortment, affects cooperation and individual success in human groups

Assortment, but not knowledge of assortment, affects cooperation and individual success in human groups

Plos One 12(10): E0185859

The success or failure of human collective action often depends on the cooperation tendencies of individuals in groups, and on the information that individuals have about each other's cooperativeness. However, it is unclear whether these two factors have an interactive effect on cooperation dynamics. Using a decision-making experiment, we confirm that groups comprising individuals with higher cooperation tendencies cooperate at a higher level than groups comprising individuals with low cooperation tendencies. Moreover, assorting individuals with similar cooperation tendency together affected behaviour so that the most cooperative individuals tended to cooperate more and the least cooperative individuals cooperated less, compared to their behaviour in randomly formed groups. In line with predictions of evolutionary models of cooperation, there was a strong positive association between individuals' cooperation tendency and success when groups were formed assortatively, whereas such association did not exist when groups were formed randomly. Surprisingly, information about group members' cooperativeness in assorted groups had no effect on cooperation levels. We discuss potential explanations for why information about cooperativeness of others may be disregarded in certain circumstances.

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Accession: 059417707

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PMID: 28968451

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185859

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