Stable leaders pave the way for cooperation under time-dependent exploration rates

Flávio L. Pinheiro, Jorge M. Pacheco, Francisco C. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The exploration of different behaviours is part of the adaptation repertoire of individuals to new environments. Here, we explore how the evolution of cooperative behaviour is affected by the interplay between exploration dynamics and social learning, in particular when individuals engage on prisoner's dilemma along the edges of a social network. We show that when the population undergoes a transition from strong to weak exploration rates a decline in the overall levels of cooperation is observed. However, if the rate of decay is lower in highly connected individuals (Leaders) than for the less connected individuals (Followers) then the population is able to achieve higher levels of cooperation. Finally, we show that minor differences in selection intensities (the degree of determinism in social learning) and individual exploration rates, can translate into major differences in the observed collective dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200910
Number of pages11
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • evolution of cooperation
  • exploration dynamics
  • social networks


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