Social Dilemmas, Revisited from a Heuristics Perspective
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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