A study of the Evolution of Discrimination using Artificial Life Simulations

Author: Chung Tue "DuCK" Nguyen
Supervisors: Ann Nicholson and Kevin Korb

Clayton School of Information Technology, Monash University

November 2006


Thesis (1.42 MB pdf)
Thesis (15.9 MB ps)
Thesis LaTeX source and image files (9.27 MB zip)
Final Presentation (437 KB ppt)
Simulation code (88.1 KB zip) - Requires Python to run
Note: The files containing the results for this project is very large (~6 Gb). If you wish to have a copy of these files. Please contact the supervisors or email me (duckrates@gmail.com) to arrange for a DVD.


This thesis investigates the evolution of intergroup discrimination from the perspective of evolutionary psychology. Discrimination is modeled as the tendency to offer different treatments based on an observable difference, which is in this case, racial difference. The experiments were carried out in an ALife environment and designed to highlight the different patterns of discrimination and to evaluate them in term of fitness of the species. The experiments were run in two different modes: (1) mix communities mode and (2) separated communities mode; in the former the two races were mixed together from the start while in the latter, the two races were separated during the initial period. Thus the impact of the population structure on the patterns of discrimination can also be observed and analysed.

In addition to exploring the potential development of discrimination in the two population structures, this research also aims at verifying existing observations on ethnocentric behaviours, i.e.\ the tendency to hyper-evaluate one's own group and negatively stereotyping other groups. Another field of study that also found support from the results of this research is game theory, from which the observations regarding the effect of cooperation versus defection was also verified and further explored within the scope of this research.

Date Last Updated: 14 November 2006
Copyright © Chung Tue Nguyen, 2006