Posts Tagged ‘group’

Cooperation and self-interest

August 9, 2013

Self-interest is at the root of cooperation. In a group of free individuals, everyone tries to maximize his/her self-interest. It is a major criterion when chosing a strategy (consciously or uncounsciously) for dealing with others, even if it is not the only one.

The cooperative approach is based on the assumption that for a rational individual to maximize his self-interest, he needs other people. Given this assumption, an individual has two options. One of them is trying to benefit from other people at their expense, often by manipulating them; the other option is cooperating with other people, i.e. acknowledging that they also have their own interests that they try to maximize. When giving other people a hand to reach their goal, one expects that they will do the same in return. At the end of the day, this brings virtuous feedback loops that benefit the whole group. When a group of people is facing other groups in a competition (e.g. in sports or in business), this collective advantage can make it prevail.

When people in a group chose to cooperate, some of them may eventually be better off than the others. Still, the cooperative strategy benefits to the group as a whole and makes it stronger than other groups that would have chosen other strategies.