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Cascading Defections from Cooperation Triggered by Present-Biased Behaviors in the Commons

Persichina, Marco (2019): Cascading Defections from Cooperation Triggered by Present-Biased Behaviors in the Commons.

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Abstract

This work shows that defective behaviors from the cooperative equilibrium in the management of common resources can be fueled and triggered by the presence of agents with myopic behaviors. The behavior implemented by naïve agents, even if performed with cooperative intent, can activate a dynamic of cascading defections from the cooperative strategy within the harvesters’ group. This paper demonstrates and discusses that the apparent and detectable decay of the cooperative choices in the dilemmas of common resources is not an exclusive and indisputable signal of an escalation in free-riding intentions but also an outcome of the present-biased preferences and myopic behaviors of the cooperative agents. Notably, within the context populated by conditional cooperators with a heterogeneous myopic discount factor, in the absence of information on agents’ intentions, the present-biased preferences can trigger a strategy that directs the community to excessively increase its harvesting level, even in presence of the other-regarding motives. Therefore, lowering cooperative behaviors can also be the effect of the absence of coordination instruments in response to the cognitive bias that influences human behaviors.

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