Participation costs dismiss the advantage of heterogeneous networks in evolution of cooperation

Naoki Masuda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Citations (Scopus)


Real social interactions occur on networks in which each individual is connected to some, but not all, of others. In social dilemma games with a fixed population size, heterogeneity in the number of contacts per player is known to promote evolution of cooperation. Under a common assumption of positively biased pay-off structure, well-connected players earn much by playing frequently, and cooperation once adopted by well-connected players is unbeatable and spreads to others. However, maintaining a social contact can be costly, which would prevent local pay-offs from being positively biased. In replicator-type evolutionary dynamics, it is shown that even a relatively small participation cost extinguishes the merit of heterogeneous networks in terms of cooperation. In this situation, more connected players earn less so that they are no longer spreaders of cooperation. Instead, those with fewer contacts win and guide the evolution. The participation cost, or the baseline pay-off, is irrelevant in homogeneous populations, but is essential for evolutionary games on heterogeneous networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1815-1821
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1620
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Aug 7
Externally publishedYes


  • Altruism
  • Complex networks
  • Evolutionary game
  • Scale-free networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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