Ignorance is bliss, but for whom? The persistent effect of good will on cooperation.

Mike Farjam, Wladislaw Mill, Marian Panganiban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Who benefits from the ignorance of others? We address this question from the point of view of a policy maker who can induce some ignorance into a system of agents competing for resources. Evolutionary game theory shows that when unconditional cooperators or ignorant agents compete with defectors in two-strategy settings, unconditional cooperators get exploited and are rendered extinct. In contrast, conditional cooperators, by utilizing some kind of reciprocity, are able to survive and sustain cooperation when competing with defectors. We study how cooperation thrives in a three-strategy setting where there are unconditional cooperators, conditional cooperators and defectors. By means of simulation on various kinds of graphs, we show that conditional cooperators benefit from the existence of unconditional cooperators in the majority of cases. However, in worlds that make cooperation hard to evolve, defectors benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • indirect reciprocity
  • games on graphs
  • good will
  • unconditional cooperation
  • strategic ignorance


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