Social Welfare and Heterogeneity of Degree in Social Networks
Georgia State University College of Law
Last modified: June 29, 2007
Cooperation has played a key role in the evolution of various species, from single-celled organisms without any cognitive capacity whatsoever, to diverse species of birds and fish, from non-human primates such as chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys to humans, where the role of cooperation may have been most evolutionarily significant. Arriving at a coherent understanding of how cooperation can evolve in the face of self-regarding agents remains one of the most formidable challenges to those that study the management of conflict. At the same time, the study of network theory, complex systems, and nonlinear dynamics has pervaded all of science. Indeed, E. O. Wilson, who once characterized the evolution of cooperation as one of the greatest challenges for modern
biology, more recently made a more emphatic appeal for research on complex systems. In this paper, we report simulation results that investigate the role of heterogeneity of degree as a distinct effect in the evolution of cooperation across numerous architectures of social networks. We demonstrate a newly developed tool for the automated construction of networks, detail simulation results that support current knowledge about the role of spatiality as a means of achieving correlated association, and report statistical results that strongly support the conclusion that heterogeneity of degree exists independently from average degree as an influence on the optimization of social welfare.