Related to the Homeric verse of the title.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1082
Constraining free riding in public goods games: designated solitary punishers can sustain human cooperation
Rick O'Gorman et al.
Much of human cooperation remains an evolutionary riddle. Unlike other animals, people frequently cooperate with non-relatives in large groups. Evolutionary models of large-scale cooperation require not just incentives for cooperation, but also a credible disincentive for free riding. Various theoretical solutions have been proposed and experimentally explored, including reputation monitoring and diffuse punishment. Here, we empirically examine an alternative theoretical proposal: responsibility for punishment can be borne by one specific individual. This experiment shows that allowing a single individual to punish increases cooperation to the same level as allowing each group member to punish and results in greater group profits. These results suggest a potential key function of leadership in human groups and provides further evidence supporting that humans will readily and knowingly behave altruistically.