We examine the effect of noise on societies of agents using an agent-based model of evolutionary norm emergence. Generally, we see that noisy societies are more selfish, smaller and discontent, and are caught in rounds of perpetual punishment preventing them from flourishing. Surprisingly, despite the detrimental effect of noise on the population, it does not seem to evolve away. In fact, in some cases it seems the level of noise increases. We carry out further analysis and provide reasons for why this might be the case. Furthermore, we claim that our framework that evolves the noise/ambiguity of norms is a new way to model the tight/loose framework of norms, suggesting that despite ambiguous norms’ detrimental effect on society, evolution does not favour clarity.

This content is only available as a PDF.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For a full description of the license, please visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode.