In a recent paper published in Games and Economic Behavior, Hannes Rusch considers the evolution of collaboration. That is, he asks in what circumstances the ability to create shared intentions and undertake collaborative action choice can proliferate.
Previous work on this topic (see our discussion here) has considered the operation of group selection (Angus & Newton, 2015) or analyzed the complexities that arise from positive and negative externalities of collaboration on third parties (Newton, 2017).
The paper under discussion differs from prior work in that players with the ability to collaborate imperfectly recognize whether or not others have the ability to collaborate. For example, Alice may have the ability to collaborate, and may erroneously think that Bob also has the ability.
Alice may then see a large animal and say “Hey Bob, let’s hunt that animal!”, thinking that Bob will fulfill his role in a hunt. When Bob fails to adequately carry out this role, it may turn out that Alice would have been better off not hunting at all.
Read the full paper here.