The influence of reputation in social networks

Within social networks, reputation is key to ensuring good social outcomes when actors are strangers. Consider how reputation can encourage good behaviour in electronic commerce when most interactions are one-time events between individuals that are unknown to each other. In these systems, people tend to stick to norms that benefit the group in order to maintain a good reputation. Although stepping aside from the norm can be individually advantageous, the potential consequences of losing reputation can sometimes be enough to ensure the social good. These reputation systems sometimes fail.

This project studies how reputation dynamics impact social outcomes in games of cooperation. We use cutting edge computational techniques to explore, from a game theoretical perspective, which norms for assigning reputation can guarantee the desired outcomes, and which norms are prone to be fragile and abused. Applications abound in the social sciences, but also in peer to peer systems where the idea of reputation is core.