Using Rules to Screen for Cooperative Types: Rule-Following and Restraint in Common Pool Resource Systems
We argue that rules and rule-following provide a key means of solving social dilemmas by revealinginformation about individual willingness to cooperate, thereby facilitating assortative matchingand the exclusion of non-cooperative types. Rules impose costs on prospective entrants to anygroup and ensure thatonly those willing to pay such costs will join. To illustrate this point, we study a novel,repeated common pool resource game in which current resource stocks depend on resource extractionin previous periods. We show that for a sufficiently high regrowth rate, there is no commonsdilemma: the resource will be preserved indefinitely in equilibrium. Behavioral tests of the modelindicate that favorable ecological characteristics are necessary but insufficient to encourageeffective CPR governance. However, by screening and sorting individuals according to theirwillingness to follow costly rules in an individual choice task, we show that CPR groups composedof rule-followers are less likely to exhaust the resource than both groups of rule-breakers andmixed-type groups.
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