Eleven Mechanisms for the Evolution of Cooperation

MICHAEL A. ZAGGL
JOURNAL OF INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS 10.2 (2014): 197-230

Abstract: Cooperation is one of the basic elements of social life. It is essential for emergent social phenomena, such as the formation of families, groups, and societies. However, evolutionary forces counter cooperation. The trait of supporting others is dominated by selfish behavior. In the last few decades scientists, in particular biologists, achieved extraordinary progress regarding the question of how cooperation is possible despite of evolutionary forces.
This produced an enormous amount of literature. This paper identifies and reviews the known solutions explaining cooperation under evolutionary forces. Using bibliometric methods in combination with extant review articles and traditional reviewing of original literature, it is possible to isolate 11 mechanisms of cooperation under the conditions of evolution. Developing a categorization of the mechanisms according to shared characteristics establishes a fundamental framework for institutional and mechanism design activities. Implications for future research paths are identified, in particular for the mechanism of indirect reciprocity.