Three-person game facilitates indirect reciprocity under image scoring

Shinsuke Suzuki, Eizo Akiyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Reputation building plays an important role in the evolution of reciprocal altruism when the same individuals do not interact repeatedly because, by referring to reputation, a reciprocator can know which partners are cooperative and can reciprocate with a cooperator. This reciprocity based on reputation is called indirect reciprocity. Previous studies of indirect reciprocity have focused only on two-person games in which only two individuals participate in a single interaction, and have claimed that indirectly reciprocal cooperation cannot be established under image scoring reputation criterion where the reputation of an individual who has cooperated (defected) becomes good (bad). In this study, we specifically examine three-person games, and reveal that indirectly reciprocal cooperation can be formed and maintained stably, even under image scoring, by a nucleus shield mechanism. In the nucleus shield, reciprocators are a shield that keeps out unconditional defectors, whereas unconditional cooperators are the backbone of cooperation that retains a good reputation among the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Nov 7
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolution of cooperation
  • Indirect reciprocity
  • Prisoner's dilemma game
  • Reputation
  • n-person game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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