Research suggests that humans and animals could not evolve in a co-operative environment by being selfish, scientists say. In other words, according to new research evolution does not favor selfish people. This new information challenges a previous theory which suggested it was preferable to put yourself first. Instead, it pays to be co-operative, shown in a model of “the prisoner’s dilemma”, a scenario of game theory; the study of strategic decision-making.
Game theory involves formulating “games” to simulate situations of conflict or co-operation. It allows researchers to unravel complex decision-making strategies and to establish why certain types of behavior among individuals emerge. The team says their work shows that exhibiting only selfish traits would have made us become extinct.
Dr. Christoph Adami and a team from Michigan State University, US, used a model of the prisoner’s dilemma game, where two suspects who are interrogated in separate prison cells must decide whether or not to inform on each other.
In the model, each person is offered a deal for freedom if they expose the other, putting their opponent in jail for six months. However, this scenario will only be played out if the opponent chooses not to tell on their fellow prison mate.
If both “prisoners” choose to talk (defection) they will both get three months in prison, but if they both stay silent (co-operation) they will both only get a jail term of one month.
“The two prisoners that are interrogated are not allowed to talk to each other. If they did they would make a pact and be free within a month. But if they were not talking to each other, the temptation would be to rat the other out.
According to Adami, “Being mean can give you an advantage on a short timescale but certainly not in the long run – you would go extinct.” Co-operating is key for evolution.
These latest findings contradict a 2012 study where it was found that selfish people could get ahead of more co-operative partners, which would create a world full of selfish beings. This was dubbed a “mean and selfish” strategy and depended on a participant knowing their opponent’s previous decision and adapting their strategy accordingly.
Crucially, in an evolutionary environment, knowing your opponent’s decision would not be advantageous for long because your opponent would evolve the same recognition mechanism to also know you, Dr Adami explained.
This is exactly what his team found, that any advantage from defecting was short-lived. They used a powerful computer model to run hundreds of thousands of games, simulating a simple exchange of actions that took previous communication into account.
This is the same way success works; Selfish traits are not favored by success oriented people.
One of the greatest failures of all times for success will be the failure to connect properly to the right people. People are literally only 6 degrees of separation from the greatest doors being open. Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.
If people don’t develop adequate networking skills they are destined to stay unfulfilled in the current state they are in. Connecting with others, or networking, is something that success oriented people have to do, many hate to do and others just don’t know how to do it.
In the plant world it’s called pollination; the transfer of pollen (stimuli) from one stem to another that is critical for reproduction. Pollination is very important. It leads to the creation of new seeds that grow into new plants. It seems the majority of creation already understood the benefits of co-operation and now the human energy is joining in.
The previous study found that selfish strategies were favorable.
Prof Andrew Coleman of Leicester University, UK, says, “You might think that natural selection should favor individuals that are exploitative and selfish, but in fact we now know after decades of research that this is an oversimplified view of things, particularly if you take into account the selfish gene feature of evolution. “It’s not individuals that have to survive, its genes, and genes just use individual organisms; animals or human, as vehicles to propagate themselves.”
“Selfish genes” therefore benefit from having co-operative organisms and so do successful people.
Humans and animals could not evolve in a co-operative environment by being selfish. Research suggests that exhibiting only selfish traits would have caused humanity to become extinct while networking causes cross pollination. People can choose to do badly all by themselves or they can connect to a dream team and create increase.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)