Advertisement

Human Ecology

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 371–386 | Cite as

The commons dilemma: A simulation testing the effects of resource visibility and territorial division

  • Robert C. Cass
  • Julian J. Edney
Article

Abstract

In a commons dilemma laboratory analog subjects were allowed individually to draw valuable points from a slowly regenerating pool. Subjects participated in groups of four and faced the dilemma of either rapidly drawing a large number of points for themselves (but thereby destroying the pool), or limiting their own harvesting so that the pool would regenerate, benefiting the group. All subjects were, in addition, informed of the optimum strategy for harvesting before the game began, but results showed that this strategy was rarely used. Two factors were added to the basic game: (1) dividing the resource pool into individual harvesting territories, and (2) making the varying levels of resources visible. Each of these increased the harvest and production of the resource, but only territoriality increased the supply. Only when both factors were applied together did the groups approach the optimal harvesting strategy earlier spelled out to them. Possible mediating variables and applications are discussed.

Key words

resource management commons dilemma social trap territoriality 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Acheson, J. M. (1975). The lobster fiefs: Economic and ecological effects of territoriality in the Maine lobster industry.Human Ecology 3: 183–207.Google Scholar
  2. Bakker, C. B., and Bakker-Rabdau, M. K. (1973).No Trespassing; Explorations in Human Territoriality. Chandler and Sharp, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  3. Brechner, K. (1977). An experimental analysis of social traps.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 13: 552–564.Google Scholar
  4. Brower, S. N. (1965). Territoriality, exterior spaces, the signs we learn to read.Landscape 15: 9–12.Google Scholar
  5. Dawes, R. M., McTavish, J., and Shaklee, H. (1977). Behavior, communication, and assumptions about other people's behavior in a commons dilemma situation.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35: 1–11.Google Scholar
  6. Edney, J. J. (1975). Territoriality and control: A field experiment.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 31: 1108–1115.Google Scholar
  7. Edney, J. J. (1976). Human territories: Comment on functional properties.Environment and Behavior 8: 31–47.Google Scholar
  8. Edney, J. J., and Harper, C. S. (1978). The effects of information in a resource management problem: A social trap analog.Human Ecology 6: 387–395.Google Scholar
  9. Goffman, E. (1963).Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Goffman, E. (1971).Relations in Public. Harper and Row, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Greenhouse, S. W., and Geisser, S. (1959). On methods in the analysis of profile data.Psychometrika 24: 95–112.Google Scholar
  12. Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons.Science 162: 1243–1248.Google Scholar
  13. Hayes, S. C. and Cone, J. D. (1977). Reducing residential electrical energy use: Payments, information, and feedback.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 10: 425–435.Google Scholar
  14. Jerdee, T. H., and Rosen, B. (1974). Effects of opportunity to communicate and visibility of individual decisions on behavior in the common interest.Journal of Applied Psychology 59: 712–716.Google Scholar
  15. Jowett, B. (1885) (trans.).The Politics of Aristotle, Vol. 1. Clarendon, London.Google Scholar
  16. Kelley, H. H., Condry, J. C., Jr., Dahlke, A. E., and Hill, A. H. (1965). Collective behavior in a simulated panic situation.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 1: 20–54.Google Scholar
  17. Kohlenberg, R., Phillips, T., and Proctor, W. (1976). A behavioral analysis of peaking in residential consumers.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 9: 13–18.Google Scholar
  18. Latane, B., and Darley, J. (1970).The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.Google Scholar
  19. Lyman, S. M., and Scott, M. B. (1967). Territoriality: A neglected sociological dimension.Social Problems 15: 236–249.Google Scholar
  20. Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J., and Behrens, W. W. (1972).The Limits to Growth. New American Library, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Mintz, A. (1951). Non-adaptive group behavior.Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 46: 150–159.Google Scholar
  22. Palmer, M. H., Lloyd, M. E., and Lloyd, K. E. (1977). An experimental analysis of electricity conservation procedures.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 10: 665–672.Google Scholar
  23. Pastalan, L. A. (1970). Privacy as an expression of human territoriality. In Pastalan, L. A., and Carson, D. H. (eds.),Spatial Behavior of Older People. University of Michigan Institute of Gerontology, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  24. Platt, J. (1973). Social traps.American Psychologist 28: 641–651.Google Scholar
  25. Proshansky, H. M., Ittleson, W. H., and Rivlin, L. G. Freedom of choice and behavior in a physical setting. In Proshansky, H. M., Ittleson, W. H., and Rivlin, L. G. (eds.),Environmental Psychology: Man and His Physical Setting. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Rachlin, H. (1974). Self-control.Behaviorism 2: 94–107.Google Scholar
  27. Rapoport, A. (1966).Two-Person Game Theory: The Essential Ideas. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  28. Roos, P. D. (1968). Jurisdiction: An ecological concept.Human Relations 21: 75–84.Google Scholar
  29. Rubenstein, F. D., Watzke, G., Doktor, R. H., and Dana, J. (1975). The effect of two incentive schemes upon the conservation of shared resource by five-person groups.Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 13: 330–338.Google Scholar
  30. Sommer, R. (1966). Man's proximate environment.Journal of Social Issues 22(4): 59–70.Google Scholar
  31. Stern, P. C. (1976). Effect of incentives and education on resource conservation decisions in a simulated commons dilemma.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 34: 1285–1292.Google Scholar
  32. Thoresen, C. E., and Mahoney, M. J. (1974).Behavioral Self-Control. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York.Google Scholar
  33. Watzke, G. E., Dana, J. M., Doktor, R. H., and Rubenstein, F. D. (1972). An experimental study of individual versus group interest.Acta Sociologica 15: 366–376.Google Scholar
  34. Williams, R. L., and Long, J. D. (1975).Toward a Self-Managed Life Style. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  35. Winer, B. J. (1971).Statistical Principles in Experimental Design, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Wynne-Edwards, V. C. (1965). Self-regulating systems in populations of animals.Science 147: 1543–1548.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Cass
    • 1
  • Julian J. Edney
    • 2
  1. 1.University of HoustonHouston
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempe

Personalised recommendations