Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment
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Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment

Edited by John A. List and Michael K. Price

Laboratory and field experiments have grown significantly in prominence over the past decade. The experimental method provides randomization in key variables therefore permitting a deeper understanding of important economic phenomena. This path-breaking volume provides a valuable collection of experimental work within the area of environmental and resource economics and showcases how laboratory and field experiments can be used for both positive and normative purposes.
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Chapter 16: The prisoner’s dilemma as intergroup game: an experimental investigation

Stephan Kroll, John A. List and Charles F. Mason


Most theoretical models of environmental problems assume that decisions are made at the individual level. Many times, however, the decision making unit is, in the broadest sense, a group – a country, legislature, board of directors or group of stakeholders – rather than an individual. Such a group can use one of several mechanisms to make its decision. For example, the members can discuss and then vote on what to do; they can vote anonymously and without effective prior communication, particularly in large groups (like countries); or they might elect a representative who makes the decision on the group’s behalf (and who will be held accountable by the group afterwards, usually through elections). In any case, the decision-maker is not the unitary rational actor (URA) that most basic theories assume, and there are explicit and implicit social interactions between the group members that affect the group decision. Despite the pervasiveness of groups as decision-making units in the real world, research by economists and political scientists on whether group decisions differ systematically from decisions made by individuals has been sparse. There are several reasons, however, why such differences could occur: institutional, mathematical, informational and behavioral reasons.

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