Behaviour in Common-Pool Resource games: investigating decision-making towards conservation and environmental issues

Bonfrisco, Mario (2021) Behaviour in Common-Pool Resource games: investigating decision-making towards conservation and environmental issues. Masters thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Hardin’s (1968) ‘Tragedy of the commons’, various fields, including economics, social sciences, conservation and environmental sciences have invested a great amount of effort to identify the characteristics that allow groups of individuals to administer and organise the use of common resources. The game used in the current study aimed to further analyse the dynamics found in social dilemmas such as Common-Pool Resources (CPRs). The game was an altered (with an amended matrix) version of a two-player Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma, where players had to make consumption decisions regarding a general resource that had the characteristics of a CPR – refreshable as well as depletable. A randomised probability of continuation (shadow of the future) was calculated and conveyed to the participants in each round. The analytical solution developed for the game suggested that players should conditionally cooperate when the probability was 69% or higher, whereas they should always defect, by taking the entire resource, when the it is lower than 69%. The game ended when the resource available was depleted by the players. A sample of 116 students and alumni voluntarily took part in the experiment. Participants were randomly allocated to either an anonymous (“Unseen”) or non-anonymous (“Seen”) condition. All participants were subjected to the same game structure, rules as well as pre and post-game questionnaires – Nature Relatedness (NR), Consideration of Future Consequences (CFC) and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). The study had two main aims: (1) compare participants’ behaviour within a strategic situation to its analytical solution and (2) investigate the psychological factors that influence the adoption of a cooperative or defective strategy. It was hypothesised that participants would follow the analytical solution. However, taking into account the idea of the Schelling points (Schelling, 1960), it was predicted that the switch point from cooperation to defection would be a more cognitively intuitive value – 50% - instead of 69%. Moreover, it was predicted that individuals with high NR, CFC, IMD as well as those in the Seen condition would play more cooperatively. These hypotheses were partially met. Participants did conditionally cooperate when the probability of another round was 69% or higher but did not always defect when it was lower than 69% - the Schelling points hypothesis was not supported. Moreover, only the manipulated condition had a significant effect on the participants’ behaviour, in fact, those allocated to the Seen condition resulted to be more cooperative. Implications and limitations of the present research were discussed and suggestions for future studies are proposed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 36547
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 10:28
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:00

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