Behavior, communication, and assumptions about other people's behavior in a commons dilemma situation

  • Dawes R
  • McTavish J
  • Shaklee H
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Abstract

Two experiments investigated effects of communication on behavior in an eight- person commons dilemma of group versus individual gain. Subjects made a single choice involving a substantial amount of money (possible outcomes rang- ing from nothing to $10 50). In Experiment 1, four communication conditions (no communication, irrelevant communication, relevant communication, and rel- evant communication plus roll call) were crossed with the possibility of losing money (loss, no loss). Subjects chose self-serving (defecting) or cooperating responses and predicted responses of other group members. Results showed defection significantly higher in the no-communication and irrelevant-communi- cation conditions than in relevant-communication and relevant-communication plus roll call conditions. Loss had no effect on decisions. Defectors expected much more defection than did cooperators. Experiment 2 replicated irrelevant communication and cooperation effects and compared predictions of participants with those of observers. Variance of participants' predictions was significantly greater than that of observers, indicating that participants' decisions were affect- ing their expectations about others' behavior

Author-supplied keywords

  • expectations about others' decisions
  • possibility of money loss, defecting vs cooperating responses in 8-person commons dilemmas game &
  • type of communication &

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Authors

  • Robyn M. Dawes

  • Jeanne McTavish

  • Harriet Shaklee

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