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Selfless vs. Selfish: Who will be the winner in human evolution?

In human history, most people would agree that ruthless and egoist people were more successful than selfless people as they believe the phrase “only strong survive”. It is mathematically and realistically true because it is impossible that selfless people get advantage in the competitive game against aggressive and fierce people. The selfish strategy would always bring the greater value to the selfish people from selfless people.

It seems that people will become greedier and more competitive since fierce player who had an apparent advantage will survive in the competition. To prove this prediction, the research team from Swiss made up the simulation in which hundred people met in pairs for playing the game. There were two types of people in the simulation. The one type of people had altruistic behavior. They actively had care of other people’s payoff. Another type had greedy personality that they never spent resources for others. Surprisingly, the results revealed that selfless people are more suitable for long term survival than selfish people. This result can be drawn in game theory box which we learned in the class.

Player 2                 A                   B


A                          (1, 1)           (15, 0)

B                         (0, 15)         (10, 10)

From the game theory box above, if both players are selfless, they will find the optimized maximum payoffs for each other. The NE will be (B, B) total the sum of payoffs will be 20. However, if player 1 is selfish and player 2 is altruistic, the NE will be (A, B) with total 15 payoffs. Moreover, if both players are selfish, the NE will be (A, A) with only total 2 payoffs. The key point of this research is that selfless people tend to gather and communicate each other in order to maximize their profit. In this case, selfish people would lost most of their payoffs.

In many situations in our real life, there are so many collapses because of human greediness such as global warming and destruction of environment. Thus, we should better be generous and altruistic for our next generation.


Article link:

“Why Homo economicus might actually be an idiot”


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