Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Collective choice fosters sustainable resource management in the presence of asymmetric opportunities

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  • Laila Nockur, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Laetitia Arndt, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Johannes Keller, Ulm University
  • ,
  • Stefan Pfattheicher

Asymmetric distribution of opportunities among actors can reinforce the conflict between individual and collective interests in social dilemma situations. The present study investigates the interplay of asymmetric distribution of opportunities to consume resources and three choice systems: individual choice, median choice, and majority voting. Participants (N = 248) took part in a common resource game in groups of four under each of the three choice systems. We examined the average percentage taken of the resource as well as satisfaction and fairness ratings depending on the choice system in interaction with (a) whether the distribution of opportunities among group members was symmetric versus asymmetric, and (b) the status of an actor (advantaged versus disadvantaged) within asymmetric groups. Both implemented collective choice systems (median choice and majority voting) increased sustainable resource management, especially in asymmetric groups, by restricting overconsumption of advantaged individuals, as well as satisfaction and fairness ratings. Collective choice increased collective welfare by increasing profits of disadvantaged individuals and members of symmetric groups. The results indicate that in the presence of asymmetric distribution of opportunities, collective choice is a means to reconcile the conflict between individual and collective interests in social dilemmas and to foster sustainable resource management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10724
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

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