Emergence of cooperation and evolutionary stability in finite populations

  • Nowak M
  • Sasaki A
  • Taylor C
 et al. 
  • 421


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 634


    Citations of this article.


The problem of cooperation1−8 is that defection is evolutionarily stable. If everybody in a population defects and one individual cooperates then this indi- vidual has a lower payoff and will be opposed by selection. Thus, the emergence of cooperation is thought to require specific mechanisms: for example, several cooperators have to arise simultaneously to overcome an invasion barrier9 or arise as spatial clusters10,11. This understanding is based on traditional con- cepts of evolutionary stability and dynamics of infinite populations12−16. Here we study evolutionary game dynamics in finite populations17−20 and show that a single cooperator using a reciprocal strategy3,21 can invade a population of defectors with a probability that corresponds to a net selective advantage. We specify the conditions for natural selection to favor the emergence of coopera- tion and derive conditions for evolutionary stability in finite populations.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Martin A. Nowak

  • Akira Sasaki

  • Christine Taylor

  • Drew Fudenherg

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free