Journal Article

Identity, Utility and Cooperative Behaviour - An Evolutionary Perspective


  • Wichardt
  • P.
Publication Date

This paper provides an argument for the advantage of a preference for identity-consistent behaviour from an evolutionary point of view. Within a stylized model of social interaction, it is shown that the development of cooperative social norms is greatly facilitated if the agents possess a preference for identity-consistent behaviour. As compliance with cooperative norms (in the long run) has a positive effect on the agents’ pay-offs, it is argued that such a preference is evolutionarily advantageous. Notably, the argument, which assumes that agents always act in accordance with their preferences, also accounts for the cost of those features that are crucial for the selection process.

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JEL Classification
A13, Z13, D01

Key Words

  • cooperation
  • identity
  • norms
  • utility