The effect of similarity perceptions on human cooperation and confrontation

Ilan Fischer, Lior Savranevski

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By assuring aversive actions are followed by similarly aversive reactions, legislators of antiquity aimed to reduce belligerence and aggression. In the present study we show how similarity perceptions drive cooperation and confrontation across several strategic decision types. Examining the choices made in three one-shot symmetric conflict games: the prisoner’s dilemma, the chicken, and the battle of the sexes, we show how a short encounter with a stranger accounts for the formation of subjective similarity perceptions, which together with the expected payoffs of the game determine the choice of the preferred alternative. We describe the role of similarity perceptions for all two-by-two games, specifically for a subset of fifty-seven games that are sensitive to similarity perceptions with the opponent. We then suggest that this mechanism, by which individuals maximize expected payoffs, is key to the understanding of the evolution of cooperation and confrontation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19849
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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© 2023, The Author(s).

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