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From asymmetric to symmetric consumption opportunities: Extractions from common resources by privileged and underprivileged group members

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In social dilemmas, asymmetric opportunities among actors can aggravate the conflict between individual and collective interests. We examine if and under what conditions redistributing extraction opportunities symmetrically fosters sustainable resource consumption. Participants in two studies (total n=640) completed a common resource game, first under asymmetric distribution of extraction opportunities (i.e., two advantaged group members could extract more than two disadvantaged group members) and then under symmetric distribution (i.e., all group members could extract the same amount). Advantaged (vs. disadvantaged) individuals took more from the resource in the asymmetric game and voted more often for the maintenance of the asymmetric system. Consumption was overall not more sustainable under symmetric (vs. asymmetric) distribution. We did not find evidence that these effects depend on the legitimacy of status positions. Of note, the symmetric game elicited higher satisfaction and fairness ratings in both status groups. The findings demonstrate how unequal access to resources fosters unequal consumption despite broad support for symmetry as the fairer system.

TidsskriftGroup Processes and Intergroup Relations
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 5 nov. 2022

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