Hunter Gatherer Research

Robustness assessment of the ‘cooperation under resource pressure’ (CURP) model

Insights on resource availability and sharing practices among hunter-gatherers

Hunter Gatherer Research (2019), 3, (3), 401–428.


A well-known challenge in archaeological research is the exploration of the social mechanisms that hunter-gatherers may have implemented throughout history to deal with changes in resource availability. The agent-based model (ABM) ‘cooperation under resource pressure’ (CURP) was conceived to explore food stress episodes in societies lacking a food preservation technology. It was particularly aimed at understanding how cooperative behaviours in the form of food sharing practices emerge, increase and may become the prevailing strategy in relation to changes in resource availability and expectancy of reciprocity. CURP’s main outcome is the identification of three regimes of behaviour depending on the stress level. In this work, the model’s robustness to the original selection mechanism (random tournament) is assessed, as different dynamics can lead to different persistent regimes. For that purpose, three other selection mechanisms are implemented and evaluated, to identify the prevailing states of the system. Results show that the three regimes are robust irrespective of the analysed dynamics. We consequently examine in more detail the long-term archaeological implications that these results may have.

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