nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2021‒08‒09
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Rules, preferences and evolution from the family angle By Cigno, Alessandro
  2. Sampling Dynamics and Stable Mixing in Hawk–Dove Games By Arigapudi, Srinivas; Heller, Yuval; Schreiber, Amnon
  3. Parochial cooperation and the emergence of signalling norms By Przepiorka, Wojtek; Andreas, Diekmann
  4. Generalized Darwinism: An Auxiliary Hypothesis By Spagano, Salvatore
  5. Witchcraft Beliefs, Social Relations, and Development By Boris Gershman
  6. Sophistication about self-control By Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.; Dahmann, Sarah Christina; Kamhöfer, Daniel A.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah

  1. By: Cigno, Alessandro
    Abstract: This paper reviews the literature concerning the evolution of cultural traits in general and preferences in particular, and the emergence and persistence of rules or norms, from a family perspective. In models where each person is effectively the clone of an existing one (either a parent or anyone else), there may be evolution only in the demographic sense that the share of the population who hold a certain trait increases or decreases. Evolution in the strict sense of new traits making their appearance occurs in models where the trait characterizing any given member of any given generation is a combination of traits drawn at random from those represented in the previous generation. Preferences may be altruistic or non-altruistic, but individuals may behave as if they were altruistic even if they are not, because a rule or norm may make it in their interest to do so. Evolutionary stability and renegotiation proofness play analogous roles, the former by selecting altruistic preferences, and the latter by selecting cooperation-inducing rules. The existence of population groups recognizable by outward characteristics like ethnicity or religious practice may convey useful information regarding imperfectly observable traits of direct interest to individuals, but it may also lead individuals to judge others by their group membership rather than by their unobservable individual qualities, and thus to see them as possible foes.
    Keywords: Evolution,preferences,rules,socialization,matching
    JEL: Z1 C78 D01 D02 D13 J13
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Arigapudi, Srinivas; Heller, Yuval; Schreiber, Amnon
    Abstract: The hawk–dove game admits two types of equilibria: an asymmetric pure equilibrium in which players in one population play “hawk” and players in the other population play “dove,” and a symmetric mixed equilibrium. The existing literature on dynamic evolutionary models shows that populations will converge to playing one of the asymmetric pure equilibria from any initial state. By contrast, we show that plausible sampling dynamics, in which agents occasionally revise their actions by observing either opponents’ behavior or payoffs in a few past interactions, can induce the opposite result: global convergence to a symmetric mixed equilibrium.
    Keywords: Chicken game, learning, evolutionary stability, bounded rationality, payoff sampling dynamics, action sampling dynamics.
    JEL: C72 C73
    Date: 2021–07–15
  3. By: Przepiorka, Wojtek; Andreas, Diekmann
    Abstract: Why do people adorn themselves with elaborate body piercings or tattoos, wear obstructing garbs, engage in life-threatening competitions and other wasteful and harmful but socially stipulated practices? Norms of cooperation and coordination, which promote the efficient attainment of collective benefits, can be explained by theories of collective action. However, social norms prescribing wasteful and harmful behaviours have eluded such explanations. We argue that signalling theory constitutes the basis for the understanding of the emergence of such norms, which we call signalling norms. Signalling norms emerge as a result of the uncertainty about who is friend and who is foe. The need to overcoming this uncertainty arises when different groups compete for scarce resources and individuals must be able to identify, trust and cooperate with their fellow group members. After reviewing the mechanisms that explain the emergence of cooperation and coordination norms, we introduce the notion of signalling norms as markers of group distinction. We argue that adherence to signalling norms constitutes a commitment promoting parochial cooperation rather than a quality-revealing signal facilitating partner choice. We formalize our argument in a game-theoretic model that allows us to specify the boundary conditions for the emergence of signalling norms. Our paper concludes with a discussion of potential applications of our model and a comparison of signalling norms with related concepts.
    Date: 2021–07–24
  4. By: Spagano, Salvatore
    Abstract: Human teleological intentionality represents the biggest challenge to a Darwinian metatheoretical framework including socio-economic domain. In order to face the problem, this paper introduces an auxiliary hypothesis: the human will has to be considered as a constitutive component of the socio-economic environment. This means that the human will is the place where evolutionary socio-economic events occur. This perspective absorbs the objection that Continuity Hypothesis theory addresses to Generalized Darwinism.
    Keywords: Generalized Darwinism, Continuity Hypothesis, Human intentionality
    JEL: B15 B25 B52
    Date: 2021–07–19
  5. By: Boris Gershman
    Abstract: Beliefs in witchcraft, or the ability of certain people to intentionally cause harm via supernatural means, have been documented across societies all over the world. Extensive ethnographic research on this phenomenon over the past century explored the many roles of witchcraft beliefs in communities highlighting both their social functions and detrimental consequences. Yet, empirical evidence based on systematic statistical analyses or experiments has been lacking until very recently. This chapter reviews the nascent literature on witchcraft beliefs in economics and other quantitative social sciences and summarizes the main directions and results of this research to date. The major themes discussed in the chapter include social relations, economic development, and institutions in their connection to witchcraft beliefs.
    Keywords: Culture, Development, Institutions, Religion, Social capital, Witchcraft
    JEL: I31 O10 O31 O43 O57 Z10 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.; Dahmann, Sarah Christina; Kamhöfer, Daniel A.; Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah
    Abstract: We propose a broadly applicable empirical approach to classify individuals as timeconsistent versus naïve or sophisticated regarding their self-control limitations. Operationalizing our approach based on nationally representative data reveals that self-control problems are pervasive and that most people are at least partly aware of their limited self-control. Compared to naïfs, sophisticates have higher IQs, better educated parents, and are more likely to take up commitment devices. Accounting for both the level and awareness of self-control limitations has predictive power beyond one-dimensional notions of self-control that neglect awareness. Importantly, sophistication fully compensates for self-control problems when choices involve immediate costs and later benefits. Raising people's awareness of their own self-control limitations may thus assist them in overcoming any adverse consequences.
    Keywords: self-control,sophistication,naïveté,commitment devices,present bias
    Date: 2021

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