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Reciprocity and the tragedies of maintaining and providing the commons

Gaechter, Simon; Kölle, Felix; Quercia, Simone

Authors

SIMON GAECHTER simon.gaechter@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor, Psychology of Economic Decision Making

Felix Kölle

Simone Quercia



Abstract

Social cooperation often requires collectively beneficial but individually costly restraint to maintain a public good, or it needs costly generosity to create one. Status quo effects predict that maintaining a public good is easier than providing a new one. Here, we show experimentally and with simulations that even under identical incentives, low levels of cooperation (the ‘tragedy of the commons’) are systematically more likely in maintenance than provision. Across three series of experiments, we find that strong and weak positive reciprocity, known to be fundamental tendencies underpinning human cooperation, are substantially diminished under maintenance compared with provision. As we show in a fourth experiment, the opposite holds for negative reciprocity (‘punishment’). Our findings suggest that incentives to avoid the ‘tragedy of the commons’ need to contend with dilemma specific reciprocity.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2017
Journal Nature Human Behaviour
Electronic ISSN 2397-3374
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
APA6 Citation Gaechter, S., K├Âlle, F., & Quercia, S. (2017). Reciprocity and the tragedies of maintaining and providing the commons. Nature Human Behaviour, 1, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0191-5
DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-017-0191-5
Keywords Tragedy of the Commons, public goods, strong and weak reciprocity, evolution of human cooperation
Publisher URL https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0191-5
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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