Fostering the Sustainable Use of Common-Pool Resources Through Behavioral Interventions: An Experimental Approach

Julio Camargo, Verônica Bender Haydu


This study proposes the use of an experimental analogue of natural resource exploitation to evaluate the effects of the real-time displaying of the amount of available resources and the provision of written feedback messages on the resource extraction behavior of participants sharing a common-pool whereby participants are physically and verbally isolated from each other. The experiment involved the application of a three-member common-pool resources (CPR) game. The members of the groups sharing the CPR were changed periodically and were allowed to talk briefly to each other so that an experienced participant could give instructions to a newcomer. In this way, it was also possible to evaluate how the accuracy of instructions regarding resource preservation and sustainability affects group member resource extraction patterns and CPR maintenance in the long run. Twenty-two college students took part and were distributed into three groups: Control, Display, and Feedback. The amount of resources extracted individually and by the groups in every round of the game was analyzed, as were the verbal responses of the experienced participants when giving instructions to newcomers. Results showed that the manipulated variables were effective for the short-term decrease in the amount of resources extracted by the members of the Display and Feedback groups. The accuracy of the instructions was also important for the sustained maintenance of the pattern of consumption established by the manipulated variables, leading to the recovery and the preservation of the resources in a greater number of the game’s rounds.


behavior analysis, experimental analogue, laboratory microsocieties, sustainability

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility