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Formal Aspects of the Emergence of Institutions

  • Author(s): Jost, Juergen
  • et al.
Abstract

We argue that social institutions emerge on the basis of the human cognitive ability to integrate an evaluation of the behavior and performances of other group members over long time periods. The results of those evaluations are condensed into the social status of an individual, and that status is the link between short time achievements and long term success within the group. Altruistic behavior on a short time scale can be advantageous for an individual on a longer time scale as it contributes to her or his status. Conversely, for example, building mating decisions not on events that may be quite random on a short time scale, but on long term accumulations is an evolutionarily rational behavior because it reduces stochastic fluctuations by averaging. Our proposal does not need any group selection scheme. It calls some approaches to computer simulations of social dynamics into question. It is based on considerations from system theory, in particular, concerning the integration of different temporal scales. It utilizes a new concept of emergence as opposed to self-organization through non-linear interactions of simple elements. It requires further studies from the social sciences to understand that scale shift as encoded in social status.

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