Abstract

Many evolutionary models that explore the emergence of cooperation rely on either individual level selection or group level selection. However, natural systems are often more complex and selection is never just on the level of the individual or group alone. Here we explore how systems of collaborating agents evolve when selection is based on a mixture of group and individual performances. It has been suggested that under such situations free riders thrive and hamper evolution significantly. Here we show that free rider effects can almost be ignored. Sharing resources even with free riders benefits the evolution of cooperators, which in the long run is more beneficial than the short term cost.

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