Understanding the evolutionary mechanisms that promote and maintain cooperative behavior is recognized as a major theoretical problem where the intricacy increases with the complexity of the participating individuals. This is epitomized by the diverse nature of Human interactions, contexts, preferences and social structures. Here we discuss how social diversity, in several of its flavors, catalyzes cooperative behavior. From the diversity in the number of interactions an individual is involved to differences in the choice of role models and contributions, diversity is shown to significantly increase the chances of cooperation. Individual diversity leads to an overall population dynamics in which the underlying dilemma of cooperation is changed, benefiting the society as whole. In addition, we show how diversity in social contexts can arise from the individual capacity for organizing their social ties. As such, Human diversity, on a grand scale, may be instrumental in shaping us as the most sophisticated cooperative entities on this planet. Download paper here
Recommended citation: Santos, Francisco C., Flavio L. Pinheiro, Tom Lenaerts, and Jorge M. Pacheco. "The role of diversity in the evolution of cooperation." Journal of theoretical biology 299 (2012): 88-96.