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Preferences and Perceptions in Provision and Maintenance Public Goods

Gächter, Simon; Kölle, Felix; Quercia, Simone

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Professor, Psychology of Economic Decision Making

Felix Kölle

Simone Quercia


We study two generic versions of public goods problems: in Provision problems, the public good does not exist initially and needs to be provided; in Maintenance problems, the public good already exists and needs to be maintained. In four lab and online experiments (,105), we document a robust asymmetry in preferences and perceptions in two incentive-equivalent versions of these public good problems. We find fewer conditional cooperators and more free riders in Maintenance than Provision, a difference that is replicable, stable, and reflected in perceptions of kindness. Incentivized control questions administered before gameplay reveal dilemma-specific misperceptions but controlling for them neither eliminates game-dependent conditional cooperation, nor differences in perceived kindness of others' cooperation. Thus, even when sharing the same game form, Maintenance and Provision are different social dilemmas that require separate behavioral analyses.


Gächter, S., Kölle, F., & Quercia, S. (2022). Preferences and Perceptions in Provision and Maintenance Public Goods. Games and Economic Behavior, 135, 338-355.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 29, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2022
Publication Date 2022-09
Deposit Date Jul 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 21, 2022
Journal Games and Economic Behavior
Print ISSN 0899-8256
Publisher Elsevier BV
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 135
Pages 338-355
Keywords Economics and Econometrics; Finance
Public URL
Publisher URL


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