Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment / CBIE Working Papers / Social Dilemmas Are Only Part of the Story to Explain Overharvesting of Renewable Resources

Social Dilemmas Are Only Part of the Story to Explain Overharvesting of Renewable Resources

CBIE_WP-2016-002

Abstract

We report on experiments with a spatial explicit dynamic resource where individuals make incentivized real-time decisions when and where to harvest the resource units. We test how individuals make decisions when they manage the resource on their own, or share a resource twice the size with another person. We find that most individuals do not harvest resources close to the optimal strategy when they manage the resource individually, and this relates to their understanding of the instructions and their social orientation. Cooperators let resources grow even when there is no social dilemma. In group rounds, there is more overharvesting, especially if participants are selfish and have a low understanding of the instructions. The results show that a better understanding of the motivations of participants is needed to explain the observed behavior.

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Published April 27, 2016

Marco A. Janssen, Arizona State University, School of Sustainability