Failure of incentives in multiplex networks

Governments and enterprises strongly rely on incentives to generate favorable outcomes from social and strategic interactions between individuals, for example climate or environmental friendly actions. The incentives are usually modeled by payoffs in strategical games, such as the prisoner’s dilemma or the harmony game. Adjusting the incentives by changing the payoff parameters e.g. through tax schemes can favor cooperation (harmony) over defection (prisoner’s dilemma). Here, we show that if individuals engage in strategic interactions in multiple domains, incentives can fail and the final outcome, cooperation or defection, is dominated by the initial state of the system. Our findings highlight the importance to take the multilayer structure of human interactions into account and emphasize the importance to rethink payoff-based incentives.


Failure of incentives in multiplex networks
Kaj-Kolja Kleineberg, Dirk Helbing