The coevolution of group size and leadership: An agent-based public goods model for prehispanic pueblo societies

Timothy A. Kohler, Denton Cockburn, Paul L. Hooper, R. Kyle Bocinsky, Ziad Kobti

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    We present an agent-based model for voluntaristic processes allowing the emergence of leadership in small-scale societies, parameterized to apply to Pueblo societies of the northern US Southwest between AD 600 and 1300. We embed an evolutionary public-goods game in a spatial simulation of household activities in which agents, representing households, decide where to farm, hunt, and locate their residences. Leaders, through their work in monitoring group members and punishing defectors, can increase the likelihood that group members will cooperate to achieve a favorable outcome in the public-goods game. We show that under certain conditions households prefer to work in a group with a leader who receives a share of the group's productivity, rather than to work in a group with no leader. Simulation produces outcomes that match reasonably well those known for a portion of Southwest Colorado between AD 600 and 900. We suggest that for later periods a model incorporating coercion, or inter-group competition, or both, and one in which tiered hierarchies of leadership can emerge, would increase the goodness-of-fit.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1150007
    JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
    Volume15
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 2012

    Keywords

    • Agent-based simulation
    • Emergence of leadership
    • Neolithic societies
    • Public-goods games
    • Pueblo society
    • Southwestern archaeology
    • Southwestern Colorado
    • Spatial simulation

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