Journal article

The Social Maintenance of Cooperation through Hypocrisy

Cooperation is widespread in human societies, but its maintenance at the group level remains puzzling if individuals benefit from not cooperating. Explanations of the maintenance of cooperation generally assume that cooperative and non-cooperative behavior in others can be assessed and copied accurately. However, humans have a well known capacity to deceive and thus to manipulate how others assess their behavior. Here, we show that hypocrisy - claiming to be acting cooperatively while acting selfishly - can maintain social cooperation because it prevents the spread of selfish behavior. We demonstrate this effect both theoretically and experimentally. Hypocrisy allows the cooperative strategy to spread by taking credit for the success of the non-cooperative strategy

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