January 2018
Vol 4, Issue 1

About The Cover

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ONLINE COVER Reciprocity between countries drives large-scale international cooperation, a new study shows. Using a global dataset comprised of cooperative and hostile actions between socio-political states, Morgan Frank and colleagues mapped cooperation, influence, and reciprocity patterns among nations over 20 years. Applying a powerful statistical technique called "convergent cross mapping," which was originally developed for extracting influence relationships in ever-changing systems like ecologies and stock markets, Frank et al. identified a large number of country pairs that exhibit highly reciprocal relationships. They also discovered different cooperative trends between countries that used reciprocity and those that did not. The former exhibited higher levels of stable cooperation, and were more likely to punish (yet quickly forgive) instances of non-cooperation, in an effort to maintain cooperation. By contrast, countries without reciprocal strategies were more likely to exploit each other's cooperation and abandon mutual agreements. The results indicate that policymakers of powerful countries—who may be tempted to take sweeping, non-cooperative action in areas like trade or environment—should consider the long-term negative effect of non-reciprocal tactics. CREDIT: ISTOCK.COM/RAPIDEYE