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Communication and Co-operation in a Common-Pool Resource Dilemma: A Field Experiment

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Abstract

One tenet of classical, rational choice theory as used in non-cooperative game theory is that all players use the same model of rationality for themselves as well as for all other players. The assumption of homogeneous, self-interested actors helps theorists to model how individuals would make choices. One justification for positing homogeneous, rational, egoistic actors has been evolutionary theory (Dawkins, 1976). That is, even if individuals tried out different ways of behaving, only those who made decisions consistent with rational egoistic decisions would maximize returns. In a highly competitive environment, those who maximize returns are more likely to survive in the long run. Long ago, Armen Alchian (1950) made a cogent theoretical argument that, in a highly competitive market, selection pressure would weed out those market participants who did not maximize profits. Extensive experimental studies of behaviour in competitive market settings have supported the use of the classical, rational choice model as the only model of individual choice needed in this setting to make empirically supported predictions (Smith, 1962; Plott, 1986). Thus, continuing to use the classical model when analysing competitive markets has both strong theoretical and empirical support.

Keywords

  • Social Dilemma
  • Public Good Provision
  • Rational Choice Theory
  • American Political Science Review
  • Trust Game

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

We appreciate the support of the National Science Foundation (Grant No. SES 0232072). Juan-Camilo Cardenas expresses his gratitude for a Research and Writing Grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and from the MacArthur Norms and Preferences Network, who funded the field experiments. The enthusiasm of Maria Claudia I.opez, Diana Maya, Ana Maria Roldan, Lilliana Mosquera and Pablo Ramos in the field made the fieldwork possible. We are appreciative of the friendly hospitality of the Colombian villagers who participated in this study. Patty Lezotte once again did a superb job of editing this manuscript for us.

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© 2004 Juan-Camilo Cardenas, T. K. Ahn and Elinor Ostrom

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Cardenas, JC., Ahn, T.K., Ostrom, E. (2004). Communication and Co-operation in a Common-Pool Resource Dilemma: A Field Experiment. In: Huck, S. (eds) Advances in Understanding Strategic Behaviour. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230523371_12

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