Public Release: 29-Mar-2017
Building trust, not hate
When people know each other, cooperation is more likely than conflict
When anonymity between people is lifted, they more likely cooperate with each other. Playing nice can thereby become a winning strategy, an international team of scientists shows in a study to be published in Science Advances. The findings are based on experiments with a limited number of participants but might have far-reaching implications, if confirmed. Reducing anonymity could help social networks such as Facebook or Twitter that suffer from hate and fake news. It might also help in conflicts about environmental resources.
"Today, it often seems that conflict trumps cooperation, be it on the Internet or in national politics - likewise in evolution, Darwinian selection should result in individuals pursuing their own selfish interest" says lead-author Zhen Wang from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China. Yet despite this perception, there's a lot of cooperation in nature as well as in societies. "Our findings suggest that it is crucial to ask one rather straightforward question: Do the prospective cooperators know each other reasonably well? If they do, they will more likely not try to win at the expense of each other, but together."