Researchers at Carlos III University of Madrid and the University of Zaragoza theoretically predict, in a scientific study, that contact networks have no influence on cooperation among individuals.
For the past twenty years, there has been a great controversy regarding whether the structure of interactions among individuals (that is, if the existence of a certain contact network or social network) helps to foment cooperation among them in situations in which not cooperating brings benefits without generating the costs of helping. Many theoretical studies have analyzed this subject, but the conclusions have been contradictory, since the way in which people make decisions is almost always based on a hypothesis of the models with very little basis to justify it.
The study carried out by these university researchers adopts a pioneering perspective on the theoretical study of the emergence of cooperation: rather than postulating that people make decisions according to one procedure or another, it incorporates the results obtained in experiments designed precisely to analyze how people decide whether to cooperate or not. The authors of the study are professors from the Interdisciplinary Complex Systems Group (Grupo Interdisciplinar de Sistemas Complejos - GISC) of the Mathematics Department of Carlos III University of Madrid, José Cuesta and Ángel Sánchez, together with Carlos Gracia and Yamir Moreno, from the Complex Systems and Networks Group (Grupo de Redes y Sistemas Complejos - COSNET Lab) of the Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems (Instituto de Biocomputación y Física de Sistemas Complejos - BIFI) of the University of Zaragoza. Their study was recently published in Scientific Reports, Nature's new open access magazine.