Donnerstag, 25. Oktober 2018, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Direct reciprocity under cognitive constraints

Talk of Dr. Christian Hilbe

Fakultät für Psychologie, Hörsaal G, 2. Stock (linke Stiege)
Liebigasse 5, 1010 Wien


Direct reciprocity is one of the major mechanisms for cooperation. It is based on the idea that people tend to be more cooperative when they interact in stable groups, in which retaliation is possible. In such groups, humans often employ conditional strategies like Tit-for-Tat: They cooperate with those who have treated them well, and they defect against those who have mistreated them. Such conditional behaviors require a certain cognitive machinery. For direct reciprocity to function, individuals need to remember their past interactions accurately, and they need to respond accordingly. In this talk, I will explore how the evolution of cooperation is impaired when individuals are limited in their memory, or when they sometimes confuse the actions of their peers.

My talk consists of three parts. The first part is a general introduction to evolutionary game theory. Here, I will explain which methods evolutionary game theorists employ, and which questions they are interested in. In the second part, I will introduce a relatively simple model for the evolution of reciprocity when individuals confound the past actions of their group members. This part will also illustrate that sometimes a simple mistake can lead to the complete breakdown of cooperation. In the last part, I will show more generally how the evolution of reciprocity is related to the players’ memory.


About the speaker

Christian Hilbe is a research scientist at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria. Before joining IST Austria, he had Post-Doc positions at the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany, and at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University, USA. He has obtained his PhD in Mathematics at the University of Vienna.

Christian Hilbe uses the tools of evolutionary game theory to study the dynamics of social behavior. His work is at the intersection of mathematics, evolutionary biology, economics, and social psychology. It combines mathematical models, computer simulations, and behavioral experiments to explore how individuals make their strategic decisions.

He has explored under which conditions humans learn to cooperate in repeated interactions (and when they would instead learn to extort and exploit each other). Moreover, he has developed mathematical models to describe why many people tend to be modest about their accomplishments, and why bragging is often considered as unbecoming. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the bass guitar and reading a good book.


Research Platform Cognitive Science


Mag.a Blanca Spee
Forschungsplattform Cognitive Science