City Research Online

Ethnic markers and the emergence of group-specific norms

Ozaita, J., Baronchelli, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0255-0829 & Sanchez, A. (2020). Ethnic markers and the emergence of group-specific norms. Scientific Reports, 10(1), article number 22219. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79222-0


Observable social traits determine how we interact meaningfully in society even in our globalized world. While a popular hypothesis states that observable traits may help promote cooperation, the alternative explanation that they facilitate coordination has gained ground in recent years. Here we explore this possibility and present a model that investigates the role of ethnic markers in coordination games. In particular, we aim to test the role of reinforcement learning as the microscopic mechanism used by the agents to update their strategies in the game. For a wide range of parameters, we observe the emergence of a collective equilibrium in which markers play an assorting role. However, if individuals are too conformist or too greedy, markers fail to shape social interactions. These results extend and complement previous work focused on agent imitation and show that reinforcement learning is a good candidate to explain many instances where ethnic markers influence coordination.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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