Abstract

When starting a new collective venture, it is important to understand partners’ motives and how strongly they commit to common goals. Arranging prior commitments or agreements on how to behave has been shown to be an evolutionary viable strategy in the context of cooperation dilemmas, ensuring high levels of mutual cooperation among self-interested individuals. However, in many situations, commitments can be used to achieve other types of collective behaviours such as coordination. Coordination is arguably more complex to achieve since there might be multiple desirable collective outcomes in a coordination problem (compared to mutual cooperation, the only desirable outcome in cooperation dilemmas), especially when these outcomes entail asymmetric benefits or payoffs for those involved. Using methods from Evolutionary Game Theory (EGT), herein we study how prior commitments can be adopted as a tool for enhancing coordination when its outcomes exhibit an asymmetric payoff structure. Our results, both by numerical simulations and analytically, show that whether prior commitment would be a viable evolutionary mechanism for enhancing coordination strongly depends on the collective benefit of coordination, and more importantly, how asymmetric benefits are resolved in a commitment deal.

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