## The Janus face of Darwinian competition

2015
Hintze, Arend
Hertwig, Ralph
Journal article
Published
##### Published in
Scientific Reports ; 5 (2015). - 13662. - eISSN 2045-2322
##### Abstract
Without competition, organisms would not evolve any meaningful physical or cognitive abilities. Competition can thus be understood as the driving force behind Darwinian evolution. But does this imply that more competitive environments necessarily evolve organisms with more sophisticated cognitive abilities than do less competitive environments? Or is there a tipping point at which competition does more harm than good? We examine the evolution of decision strategies among virtual agents performing a repetitive sampling task in three distinct environments. The environments differ in the degree to which the actions of a competitor can affect the fitness of the sampling agent, and in the variance of the sample. Under weak competition, agents evolve decision strategies that sample often and make accurate decisions, which not only improve their own fitness, but are good for the entire population. Under extreme competition, however, the dark side of the Janus face of Darwinian competition emerges: Agents are forced to sacrifice accuracy for speed and are prevented from sampling as often as higher variance in the environment would require. Modest competition is therefore a good driver for the evolution of cognitive abilities and of the population as a whole, whereas too much competition is devastating.
150 Psychology
##### Cite This
ISO 690HINTZE, Arend, Nathaniel PHILLIPS, Ralph HERTWIG, 2015. The Janus face of Darwinian competition. In: Scientific Reports. 5, 13662. eISSN 2045-2322. Available under: doi: 10.1038/srep13662
BibTex
@article{Hintze2015Janus-33276,
year={2015},
doi={10.1038/srep13662},
title={The Janus face of Darwinian competition},
volume={5},
journal={Scientific Reports},
author={Hintze, Arend and Phillips, Nathaniel and Hertwig, Ralph},
note={Article Number: 13662}
}

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