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Social Dilemmas, Revisited from a Heuristics Perspective

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Author Info

  • Christoph Engel

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Germany)

Abstract

The standard tool for analysing social dilemmas is game theory. They are reconstructed as prisoner dilemma games. This is helpful for understanding the incentive structure. Yet this analysis is based on the classic homo oeconomicus assumptions. In many real world dilemma situations, these assumptions are misleading. A case in point is the contribution of households to climate change. Decisions about using cars instead of public transport, or about extensive air conditioning, are typically not based on ad hoc calculation. Rather, individuals rely on situational heuristics for the purpose. This paper does two things: it offers a model of heuristics, in the interest of making behaviour that is guided by heuristics comparable to behaviour based on rational reasoning. Based on this model, the paper determines the implications for the definition of social dilemmas. In some contexts, the social dilemma vanishes. In other contexts, it must be understood, and hence solved, in substantially different ways.

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File URL: http://www.coll.mpg.de/pdf_dat/2004_04online.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2004_4.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2004_04

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Related research

Keywords: Heuristic; Social Dilemma; Public Good; Prisoner’s Dilemma;

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References

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  1. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
  2. Simon, Herbert A, 1979. "Rational Decision Making in Business Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 493-513, September.
  3. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 1998. "On Custom in the Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292241.
  4. Lluís Bru & Xavier Vives, 2002. "Informational Externalities, Herding, and Incentives," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 158(1), pages 91-, March.
  5. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Christoph Engel, 2007. "Institutions for Intuitive Man," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2007_12, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  2. Engel, Christoph & Weber, Elke U., 2007. "The impact of institutions on the decision how to decide," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 323-349, December.

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