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Impact of fraud on the mean-field dynamics of cooperative social systems

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Roehl, T., Roehl, C., Schuster, H. G., & Traulsen, A. (2007). Impact of fraud on the mean-field dynamics of cooperative social systems. Physical review E, 76(2). doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.76.026114.

The evolution of costly cooperation between selfish individuals seems to contradict Darwinian selection, as it reduces the fitness of a cooperating individual. However, several mechanisms such as repeated interactions or spatial structure can lead to the evolution of cooperation. One such mechanism for the evolution of cooperation, in particular among humans, is indirect reciprocity, in which individuals base their decision to cooperate on the reputation of the potential receiver, which has been established in previous interactions. Cooperation can evolve in these systems if individuals preferably cooperate with those that have shown to be cooperative in the past. We analyze the impact of fake reputations or fraud on the dynamics of reputation and on the success of the reputation system itself, using a mean-field description for evolutionary games given by the replicator equation. This allows us to classify the qualitative dynamics of our model analytically. Our results show that cooperation based on indirect reciprocity is robust with respect to fake reputations and can even be enhanced by them. We conclude that fraud per se does not necessarily have a detrimental effect on social systems.