Evolution of cooperation in social dilemmas under the coexistence of aspiration and imitation mechanisms

Md Rajib Arefin, Jun Tanimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Imitation and aspiration update rules are frequently observed in human and animal populations. While the imitation process entails payoff comparisons with surroundings, the aspiration process refers to self-evaluation. This work explores the evolution of cooperation in dyadic games under the coexistence of these two dynamics in an infinitely large well-mixed population. Two situations have been explored: (i) individuals adopt either an imitation or aspiration update rule with a certain probability, and (ii) the entire population is divided into two groups where one group only uses imitative rules and the other obeys aspiration updating alone. Both premises have been modeled by taking an infinite approximation of the finite population. In particular, the second mixing principle follows an additive property: the outcome of the whole population is the weighted average of outcomes from imitators and aspiration-driven individuals. Our work progressively investigates several variants of aspiration dynamics under strong selection, encompassing symmetric, asymmetric, and adaptive aspirations, which then coalesce with imitative dynamics. We also demonstrate which of the update rules performs better, under different social dilemmas, by allowing the evolution of the preference of update rules besides strategies. Aspiration dynamics always outperform imitation dynamics in the prisoner's dilemma, however, in the chicken and stag-hunt games the predominance of either update rule depends on the level of aspirations as well as on the extent of greed and fear present in the system. Finally, we examine the coevolution of strategies, aspirations, and update rules which leads to a binary state of obeying either imitation or aspiration dynamics. In such a circumstance, when aspiration dynamics prevail over imitation dynamics, cooperators and defectors coexist to an equal extent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032120
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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