Phase Transitions and Volunteering in Spatial Public Goods Games
Physical Review Letters
Cooperative behavior among unrelated individuals in human and animal societies represents a most intriguing puzzle to scientists in various disciplines. Here we present a simple yet effective mechanism promoting cooperation under full anonymity by allowing for voluntary participation in public goods games. This natural extension leads to rock--scissors--paper type cyclic dominance of the three strategies cooperate, defect and loner i.e. those unwilling to participate in the public enterprise.
... ublic enterprise. In spatial settings with players arranged on a regular lattice this results in interesting dynamical properties and intriguing spatio-temporal patterns. In particular, variations of the value of the public good leads to transitions between one-, two- and three-strategy states which are either in the class of directed percolation or show interesting analogies to Ising-type models. Although volunteering is incapable of stabilizing cooperation, it efficiently prevents successful spreading of selfish behavior and enables cooperators to persist at substantial levels.