The Conceptual Framework of Social Dilemmas

  • Anders Biel

An important topic concerning human nature and motives directing human behavior has guided social dilemma research over the years. Is human nature, as many theorists assume, basically selfish and human behavior driven by egoistic incentives, or should a more truthful account also include that humans sometimes cooperate for the best of fellow humans? On theoretical as well as empirical grounds (e.g., Caporael et al., 1989; Dawes, 1980; Komorita & Parks, 1994), cooperative behavior in the absence of egoistic incentives was soon accepted within psychology. In recent years, economists have followed the path (e.g., Fehr et al., 2002; Frey, 1997). Hence, the battle over human motives has partly been settled. Still, situational factors can influence whether humans answer their selfish motives in the affirmative or cooperate to the benefit of the group or society at large. Earlier research on social dilemmas has advanced our knowledge of situational conditions that make a difference (e.g., Messick et al., 1983; Komorita & Parks, 1994; Ostrom et al., 2002). The present volume will hopefully make additional contributions.


Public Good Restorative Justice Social Dilemma Common Pool Resource Implicit Feedback 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Biel
    • 1
  1. 1.Psykologiska InstitutionenGöteborg UniversitySweden

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