The Experimental Economics Center, ExCEN – with financial support from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Economic Analysis of Risk, CEAR – organized and hosted the Eighth Biennial Meeting of the Social Dilemmas Working Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 16-18.
The working group, founded by the late Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, first met in 2002 to provide a forum to focus on theoretical, experimental, and applied research that develops better understanding of behavior and decision making in social dilemma situations. It also highlights models of interaction between social context and political-economic institutions that support or fail to support resolution of social dilemma problems under risk and uncertainty.
ExCEN Director and Noah Langdale Jr. Chair, James C. Cox served as the Principal Investigator, and ExCEN faculty Vjollca Sadiraj served as the Co-Principal Investigator on the NSF grant. In addition to Professors Cox and Sadiraj, the organizing committee included Professors Laura K. Gee from Tufts University, Olga Shurchkov from Wellesley College, and James M. Walker from Indiana University. Presenters came from research universities across the U.S. and Europe to present and discuss novel theories, experiments, and econometric studies of social dilemmas in different contexts such as repeated games and sequential games, and proposed enhancement of resolution to social dilemmas faced in contexts such as the volunteers dilemma. Topics discussed included the effects of beliefs, cooperation, cognitive processes, and political institutions on behavior in social dilemma situations.
Young researchers were nominated by their faculty mentors to present their research. They presented working papers on: altruistic lies; crowd funding of threshold public goods; self-selection into public resource management committee; team innovation contexts with cognitive diversity; divide and choose with strategic Bayesian agents; dyadic decision making within social groups of capuchin monkeys; complexity, misrepresentation and communication; conservation and consumption with spillovers between common pools and public goods.
This year’s workshop continued the tradition of bringing together researchers from multiple disciplinary backgrounds. The keynote speaker was Sarah K. Brosnan, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, Philosophy, and Neuroscience at Georgia State University. Her presentation was focused on her extensive work on understanding the evolution of primate decision-making using experimental economics games to study cooperation, coordination and anti-coordination in experiments with monkeys, apes, and humans. Dr. Brosnan’s presentation elicited much discussion among attendees and highlighted the significance of experimental economics in furthering our understanding of behavior and decision-making across fields, topics, and species.
A special issue on research from the conference will be published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.