Social Diversity and Social Preferences in Mixed-Motive Reinforcement Learning

Abstract

Recent research on reinforcement learning in pure-conflict and pure-common interest games has emphasized the importance of population heterogeneity. In contrast, studies of reinforcement learning in mixed-motive games have primarily leveraged homogeneous approaches. Given the defining characteristic of mixed-motive games--the imperfect correlation of incentives between group members--we study the effect of population heterogeneity on mixed-motive reinforcement learning. We draw on interdependence theory from social psychology and imbue reinforcement learning agents with Social Value Orientation (SVO), a flexible formalization of preferences over group outcome distributions. We subsequently explore the effects of diversity in SVO on populations of reinforcement learning agents in two mixed-motive Markov games. We demonstrate that heterogeneity in SVO generates meaningful and complex behavioral variation among agents similar to that suggested by interdependence theory. Empirical results in these mixed-motive dilemmas suggest agents trained in heterogeneous populations develop particularly generalized, high-performing policies relative to those trained in homogeneous populations.

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