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Collective Dangerous Behavior: Theory and Evidence on Risk-Taking


  • Olivier Bochet
  • Jeremy Laurent-Lucchetti
  • Justin Leroux
  • Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné


It is commonly found that uncertainty helps discipline economic agents in strategic contexts. Using a stochastic variant of the Nash Demand Game, we show that the presence of uncertainty may have a dramatically opposite effect. Cautious (efficient) and dangerous (inefficient) equilibria may co-exist regardless of agents’ risk preferences. We report experimental evidence on these predictions. We find that a risk-taking society may emerge from the decentralized actions of risk-averse individuals. Subjects predominantly play symmetric dangerous equilibria, even when all agents are risk averse. An important driver for this result is the pessimistic beliefs of subjects regarding others’ claims.

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  • Olivier Bochet & Jeremy Laurent-Lucchetti & Justin Leroux & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2013. "Collective Dangerous Behavior: Theory and Evidence on Risk-Taking," Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva 13101, Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève.
  • Handle: RePEc:gen:geneem:13101

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandler, Todd & Sternbenz, Frederic P., 1990. "Harvest uncertainty and the tragedy of the commons," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 155-167, March.
    2. Péter Esö & Lucy White, 2004. "Precautionary Bidding in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 77-92, January.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    4. Tavoni, Alessandro & Dannenberg, Astrid & Kallis, Giorgos & Löschel, Andreas, 2011. "Inequality, communication and the avoidance of disastrous climate change," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37570, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    6. Yann Bramoullé & Nicolas Treich, 2009. "Can Uncertainty Alleviate the Commons Problem?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1042-1067, September.
    7. Budescu David V. & Rapoport Amnon & Suleiman Ramzi, 1995. "Common Pool Resource Dilemmas under Uncertainty: Qualitative Tests of Equilibrium Solutions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 171-201, July.
    8. Michael McBride, 2010. "Threshold uncertainty in discrete public good games: an experimental study," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 77-99, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Diekert, Florian K., 2015. "Threatening Thresholds? The effect of disastrous regime shifts on the cooperative and non-cooperative use of environmental goods and services," Memorandum 12/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    2. Diekert, Florian K., 2017. "Threatening thresholds? The effect of disastrous regime shifts on the non-cooperative use of environmental goods and services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 30-49.

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