chapter  3
24 Pages

On the Importance of Equality in Social Dilemmas

WithEric Van Dijk, Arjaan P. Wit, Henk A. M. Wilke, and Erik W. de Kwaadsteniet

In social dilemmas, people face a mixed-motive situation in which they may be motivated to further their own interests but also to further the collective interest, knowing that both interests collide (for overviews on social dilemmas, see, e.g., Dawes, 1980; Komorita & Parks, 1995; Kopelman, Weber, & Messick, 2002; Messick & Brewer, 1983). Many different types of social dilemmas can be distinguished (see, e.g., Messick & Brewer, 1983). Consider, for example, the problem of maintaining collective resources. Resources such as energy, oil, and water can be regarded as collective resources that should be consumed wisely. In such situations, group members may face the dilemma that, despite the collective interest to restrict consumption, it may be in their personal interest to consume excessively. This dilemma of whether or not to restrict consumption of scarce resources is referred to as the resource dilemma. Another example refers to the provision of public goods when individuals can contribute to provide a public good, knowing that they can benefit from the provision even if they have not contributed to its provision. This dilemma of whether or not to contribute to the public good is referred to as the public good dilemma.