Positive framing does not solve the tragedy of the commons

Elisabeth Thuestad Isaksen, Kjell Arne Brekke, & Andries Richter

Photo: Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

Published in:

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Volume 95, May 2019.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2018.11.005

Abstract

We investigate whether positive framing increases cooperation in three social dilemmas with slightly different properties: a linear public goods (PG) game, a non-linear PG game, and a common pool resource (CPR) game. Results from our laboratory experiments show that contributions to a linear PG are higher if the externality is framed positively, rather than negatively, corroborating earlier findings by Andreoni (1995). By contrast, we find no such framing effects in the non-linear PG game or the CPR game. In these games, the best response in the material payoffs is to contribute less if others contribute more, counteracting effects of pro-social preferences. Positive framing therefore does not help to solve the tragedy of the commons.

Published July 23, 2019 5:22 PM - Last modified July 23, 2019 5:22 PM