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

43 Scopus citations

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 Colorado
  • Southwestern archaeology
  • Spatial simulation

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