Think global, act local: Preserving the global commons
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CitationHauser, Oliver P., Achim Hendriks, David G. Rand, and Martin A. Nowak. 2016. “Think global, act local: Preserving the global commons.” Scientific Reports 6 (1): 36079. doi:10.1038/srep36079. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep36079.
AbstractPreserving global public goods, such as the planet’s ecosystem, depends on large-scale cooperation, which is difficult to achieve because the standard reciprocity mechanisms weaken in large groups. Here we demonstrate a method by which reciprocity can maintain cooperation in a large-scale public goods game (PGG). In a first experiment, participants in groups of on average 39 people play one round of a Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) with their two nearest neighbours on a cyclic network after each PGG round. We observe that people engage in “local-to-global” reciprocity, leveraging local interactions to enforce global cooperation: Participants reduce PD cooperation with neighbours who contribute little in the PGG. In response, low PGG contributors increase their contributions if both neighbours defect in the PD. In a control condition, participants do not know their neighbours’ PGG contribution and thus cannot link play in the PD to the PGG. In the control we observe a sharp decline of cooperation in the PGG, while in the treatment condition global cooperation is maintained. In a second experiment, we demonstrate the scalability of this effect: in a 1,000-person PGG, participants in the treatment condition successfully sustain public contributions. Our findings suggest that this simple “local-to-global” intervention facilitates large-scale cooperation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:29625959