Altruistic Punishment

September 23, 2009
by Evan Shelhamer (eshelham)

Different modes of altruism is a rich area for exploration, both in research into the current literature and in simulation. The three that are most apparent are sharing (individual divides a resource it has with other), helping (individual helps other to gain a resource), and altruistic punishment, the most counter-intuitive. Altruistic punishment is the sacrifice of an individual’s energy to defeat others that do not contribute/cooperate/behave altruistically; an individual may sacrifice itself to kill off “selfish” individuals and prevent their reproduction.

The most important consideration in simulation is how to accurately/meaningfully model these modes of altruism, considering such things as costs of donation or punishment and the expression of multiple types (do sharer-helpers also punish, or do punisher-sharers not help, etc.)

Some literature on altruistic punishment, since it was the least familiar to me: evolution of altruistic punishment, altruistic punishment & origin of cooperation, altruistic punishment in humans

–Evan Shelhamer

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