Social networks affect in such a fundamental way the dynamics of the population they support that the global, population-wide behavior that one observes often bears no relation to the individual processes it stems from. Up to now, linking the global networked dynamics to such individual mechanisms has remained elusive. Here we study the evolution of cooperation in networked populations and let individuals interact via a 2-person Prisoner’s Dilemma – a characteristic defection dominant social dilemma of cooperation. We show how homogeneous networks transform a Prisoner’s Dilemma into a population-wide evolutionary dynamics that promotes the coexistence between cooperators and defectors, while heterogeneous networks promote their coordination. To this end, we define a dynamic variable that allows us to track the self-organization of cooperators when co-evolving with defectors in networked populations. Using the same variable, we show how the global dynamics — and effective dilemma — co-evolves with the motifs of cooperators in the population, the overall emergence of cooperation depending sensitively on this co-evolution.
Recommended citation: Pinheiro, Flavio L., Jorge M. Pacheco, and Francisco C. Santos. "From local to global dilemmas in social networks." PloS one 7.2 (2012): e32114.