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Paper: ETH-RC-12-017

Title: Diversity-induced resonance in the response to social norms

Authors: Claudio J. Tessone*, Angel Sanchez, Frank Schweitzer


In this paper we focus on diversity-induced resonance, which was recently found in bistable, excitable and other physical systems. We study the appearance of this phenomenon in a purely economic model of cooperating and defecting agents. Agent's contribution to a public good is seen as a social norm. So defecting agents face a social pressure, which decreases if free-riding becomes widespread. In this model, diversity among agents naturally appears because of the different sensitivity towards the social norm. We study the evolution of cooperation as a response to the social norm (i) for the replicator dynamics, and (ii) for the logit dynamics by means of numerical simulations. Diversity-induced resonance is observed as a maximum in the response of agents to changes in the social norm as a function of the degree of heterogeneity in the population. We provide an analytical, mean-field approach for the logit dynamics and find very good agreement with the simulations. From a socio-economic perspective, our results show that, counter-intuitively, diversity in the individual sensitivity to social norms may result in a society that better follows such norms as a whole, even if part of the population is less prone to follow them.

Keywords: Common-goods games, stochastic processes, social norms

Manuscript status: Submitted

JEL codes:
PACS numbers: 89.65.Gh, 05.45.Xt, 02.50.-r

Local copy of the paper: ETH-RC-12-017.pdf

Submission date: 11-10-2012

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