Distributive Preferences in Social Dilemmas
In research on social dilemmas and in game theoretic research, it was for a long time assumed that the rational decision is to choose an option with the most beneficial economic outcome to oneself. Yet, in group situations, individuals’ decisions have been shown to be influenced by non-economic motives. This dissertation starts from two premises: (i) in contrast to previous research positing maximization of economic benefits to oneself as the ultimate goal, it is argued that non-economic group goals (e.g., group performance, harmony, a sense of responsibility and social concern) favoring the collective interest are also important motives, and (ii) public good dilemmas can be decomposed into provision and allocation of the public good. Public good allocation has been largely neglected in previous research. Thus, the main question posed in this dissertation is whether people’s preferred allocations of a public good are related to the particular goal that the group pursues. In Study I, Experiment 1 revealed that fairness was related to how participants allocated the public good. Equity and equal final outcomes were more preferred than equality in the allocation of the public good. Inducing group goal in Experiment 2 proved to be effective in differentiating between the preferences for equity and equal final outcomes. Specifically, the goal of economic productivity resulted in equitable public good allocations and the goal of harmony resulted in allocations according to equal final outcomes. Equality was also preferred but only when it was conducive to realizing the goal of social concern. Study II tested the prediction that fairness and salience of a group goal would promote unselfish allocations of a public good. In support of this, Experiment 1 revealed no significant effects of self-interest on perceived instrumentality of allocation principles in fulfilling a certain group goal. Instead, instrumentality was related to perceived fairness. In Experiment 2, the group goal of economic productivity increased fairness of equitable public good allocations and the group goals of harmony and social concern increased fairness of equal public good allocations. Self-interest had no effects. In contrast to Studies I and II, Study III used an asymmetric public good dilemma paradigm in which participants had unequal endowments but provided evidence for similar effects of group goal on allocation preferences. Self-interest had no significant effects. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that fairness mediates the effect of group goal on allocation preferences, indicating that perceived fairness explains why people pursuing a certain group goal tend to prefer a specific allocation. In Study IV, Experiment 1 posed the question as to whether group goal also would account for allocation of negative outcomes. A factor analysis revealed a two-factor structure splitting group goal into relationship-oriented and performance-oriented goals. The former correlated with preferences for equal allocations, the latter with equitable allocations. Effects of group goal on allocation preferences were similar for distribution of positive and negative outcomes. Experiment 1 also revealed larger deviations from all distributive principles in allocation of negative outcomes. Further investigation of this result in Experiment 2 showed that as hypothesized allocations of negative outcomes were perceived as more difficult than allocations of positive outcomes, suggesting that in allocating negative outcomes people may experience a lower level of confidence in their allocations.
Parts of work
I. Kazemi, A., Eek, D., & Gärling, T. (2006). Do people prefer equity, equality, or equal final outcomes in public good allocations? (Manuscript submitted for publication as a revised version of Kazemi, A., Eek, D., & Gärling, T. (2005). Effects of fairness and distributive goal on preferred allocations in public good dilemmas (Göteborg Psychological Reports, 35, No. 4). Sweden: Göteborg University, Department of Psychology.)II. Kazemi, A., Eek, D., & Gärling, T. (2006). Fairness and group goals promote unselfish public good allocations. (Manuscript submitted for publication as a revised version of Kazemi, A., Eek, D., & Gärling, T. (2005). Effects of fairness, group goal, and self-interest on allocation preferences in step-level public good dilemmas (Göteborg Psychological Reports, 35, No. 5). Sweden: Göteborg University, Department of Psychology.)III. Kazemi, A., Eek, D., & Gärling, T. (2006). The interplay between greed, fairness, and group goal in allocation of public goods (Göteborg Psychological Reports, 36, No. 2). Sweden: Göteborg University, Department of Psychology.IV. Kazemi, A., & Eek, D. (in press). Effects of group goal and resource valence on allocation preferences in public good dilemmas. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Psychology
Sal F1, Psyk inst, Haraldsgatan 1 kl. 10.00
Date of defence
public good dilemma