The evolution of punishment and apology: An iterated prisoner's dilemma model

Kyoko Okamoto*, Shuichi Matsumura

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, behaviors that seem to function as punishment or apology have been reported among non-human primates as well as humans. Such behaviors appear to play an important role in maintaining cooperation between individuals. Therefore, the evolution of these behaviors should be examined from the viewpoint of the evolution of cooperation. The iterated prisoner's dilemma (IPD) game is generally considered to be a standard model for the evolution of cooperation. In the present study, strategies accompanied by punishment-like attacks or apology-like behavior were introduced into the common IPD simulation. Punishment and apology were represented by the P signal and the AS signal given immediately after defection. A strategy with the P and AS signals, named the pPAS strategy, was proved to be an evolutionarily stable strategy under certain conditions. Numerical simulations were carried out according to different assigned values of the costs of punishment and apology. The simulations showed that pPAS could dominate the population (1) when the cost of giving P is relatively small, (2) when the cost of receiving P is relatively large, or (3) when the cost of giving AS is relatively large. The relative cost of giving AS had the clearest effect on the success of pPAS. pPAS can dominate the population even when a dominance asymmetry of the costs between two players was introduced. The present results suggest the possible evolution of social behaviors like punishment or apology as a means of maintaining cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-720
Number of pages18
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Apology
  • Cooperation
  • Iterated prisoner's dilemma
  • Punishment
  • Signal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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