Category Experiments

Sort Publications By:


Books

Experiments on the Commons: A Micro-Behavior Perspective (in Chinese)

Ying, C. and M.A. Janssen 2017
China Science Publishing and Media

Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons and Multiple Methods in Practice

Poteete, A.R., M.A. Janssen and E. Ostrom 2010
Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Translations:


Special Issues
 

Advancing the understanding of behavior in social-ecological systems: results from lab and field experiments

Marco A Janssen, Therese Lindahl, and James J Murphy
2015 Ecology and Society http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/issues/view.php?sf=102.

Governing the commons: Learning from Field and Laboratory experiments

Janssen, M.A. and J.M. Anderies
2011 Ecological Economics 70(9): 1569-1620.


Journal Articles
 

Using agent-based models to compare behavioral theories on experimental data: Application for irrigation games

Janssen, M.A. and J.A. Baggio

2017 Journal of Environmental Psychology 52: 194-203.

 Abstract

Behavioral experiments have demonstrated that people do cooperate in commons dilemmas. There are alternative theories that are proposed to explain the data. We will use agent-based models to compare alternative behavioral theories on a series of experimental data of irrigation games. The irrigation dilemma captures situations of asymmetric access to common resources while contributions of all participants are needed to maintain the physical infrastructure.

In our model analysis we compare various alternative theories, including naïve simple ones like selfish rational actors and altruistic actors. We contrast these with various alternative behavioral models for collective action as well as inclusion of other-regarding preferences. The systematic comparison of alternative models on experimental data from 44 groups enables us to test which behavioral theories best explain the observed effects of communication. We do not find that one theory clearly outperform others in explaining the data.


 

When patience leads to destruction: the curious case of individual time preferences and the adoption of destructive fishing gears

Javoid, A., M.A. Janssen, H. Reuter, A. Schlüter

2017 Ecological Economics 142: 91-93.

 Abstract

The use of destructive fishing methods is a serious problem, especially for tropical and developing countries. Due to inter temporal nature of fisheries extraction activities, standard economic theory suggests that an individual’s time preference can play a major role in determining the gear choice decision. Based on earlier theoretical work we identify two ways in which individual time preferences can impact the adoption of destructive extraction methods; (i) the conservation effect which posits that patient individuals (as indicated by relatively high discount factor) are less likely to use destructive extraction methods since they are more likely to account for the loss of future income that is accompanied by using these methods, (ii) the disinvestment effect which argues that patient individuals are more likely to use destructive extraction methods since they have greater investment capability.

Using an agent-based model we clarify the conditions under which one of these effects is more dominant than the other one. Our model suggests that the nature of destructive gear along with the level of social dilemma determines whether patient or impatient individuals (relatively lower discount factor) are more likely to adopt such a gear. Additionally agent’s beliefs regarding future resource condition and other agent’s extraction level can have a major influence in some cases.


 

Fragility of the provision of local public goods to private and collective risks

Cárdenas, J.C., M.A. Janssen, M. Ale, R. Bastakoti, A.M. Bernal, J. Chalermphol, Y. Gong, H.C. Shin, G. Shivakoti, Y. Wang, J.M. Anderies

2017 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 114(5): 921-925.

 Abstract

Small holder agricultural systems, strongly dependent on water resources and investments in shared infrastructure, make a significant contribution to food security in developing countries. These communities are increasingly integrated in the global economy and are exposed to new global climate-related risks that may affect their willingness to cooperate in community level collective action problems. We performed field experiments on public goods with private and collective risks in 118 small-scale rice producing communities in four countries. Our results indicate that increasing integration of those communities with the broader economic system is associated with lower investments in public goods when facing collective risks. These findings indicate that local public good provision may be negatively affected by collective risks especially if communities are more integrated with the market economy.


 

Games for Groundwater Governance: Field Experiments in Andhra Pradesh, India

Meinzen-Dick, R., R. Chaturvedi, L. Domenech, R. Ghate, M.A. Janssen, N. Rollins and K. Sandeep

2016 Ecology & Society 21(3):38.

 Abstract

Groundwater is a common-pool resource that is subject to depletion in many places around the world as a result of increased use of irrigation and water-demanding cash crops. Where state capacity to control groundwater use is limited, collective action is important to increase recharge and restrict highly water-consumptive crops. We present results of field experiments in hard rock areas of Andhra Pradesh, India, to examine factors affecting groundwater use. Two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) ran the games in communities where they were working to improve watershed and water management. Results indicate that, when the links between crop choice and groundwater depletion is made explicit, farmers can act cooperatively to address this problem. Longer NGO involvement in the villages was associated with more cooperative outcomes in the games. Individuals with more education and higher perceived community social capital played more cooperatively, but neither gender nor method of payment had a significantly effect on individual behavior. When participants could repeat the game with communication, similar crop choice patterns were observed. The games provided an entry point for discussion on the understanding of communities of the interconnectedness of groundwater use and crop choice.


 

Stimulating Contributions to Public Goods through Information Feedback: Some Experimental Results

Janssen, M.A., A. Lee and H. Sundaram

2016 PLoS ONE 11(7): e0159537. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0159537.

 Abstract

In traditional public good experiments participants receive an endowment from the experimenter that can be invested in a public good or kept in a private account. In this paper we present an experimental environment where participants can invest time during five days to contribute to a public good. Participants can make contributions to a linear public good by logging into a web application and performing virtual actions. We compared four treatments, with different group sizes and information of (relative) performance of other groups. We find that information feedback about performance of other groups has a small positive effect if we control for various attributes of the groups. Moreover, we find a significant effect of the contributions of others in the group in the previous day on the number of points earned in the current day. Our results confirm that people participate more when participants in their group participate more, and are influenced by information about the relative performance of other groups.


 

Learning for resilience-based management: Generating hypotheses from a behavioral study

Yu, D.J., H.C. Shin, I. Pérez, J.M. Anderies and M.A. Janssen

2016 Global Environmental Change 37: 69-78.

 Abstract

Encouragement of learning is considered to be central to resilience of social–ecological systems (SESs) to unknown and unforeseeable shocks. However, despite the consensus on the centrality of learning, little research has been done on the details of how learning should be encouraged to enhance adaptive capacity for resilience. This study contributes to bridging this research gap by examining the existing data from a behavioral experiment on SES that involves learning. We generate new hypotheses regarding how learning should be encouraged by comparing the learning processes of human-subject groups that participated in the experiment. Our findings suggest that under environmental stability, groups may be able to perform well without frequent outer-loop (or double-loop) learning. They can still succeed as long as they tightly coordinate on shared strategies along with active monitoring of SESs and user participation in decision-making. However, such groups may be fragile under environmental variability. Only the groups that experience active outer-loop learning and monitoring of SESs are likely to remain resilient under environmental variability.

Keywords: Loop learning; General resilience; Behavioral experiment; Adaptive management; Adaptive co-management; Adaptive governance


 

Advancing the Understanding of Behavior in Social-Ecological Systems: Results from Lab and Field Experiments

Janssen, M.A., T. Lindahl, and J.J. Murphy

2015 Ecology and Society 20(4):34.

Synergistic effects of voting and enforcement on internalized motivation to cooperate in a resource dilemma

DeCaro, D.A., M.A. Janssen and A. Lee

2015 Judgment and Decision Making 10(6): 511-537.

 Abstract

We used psychological methods to investigate how two prominent interventions, participatory decision making and en- forcement, influence voluntary cooperation in a common-pool resource dilemma. Groups (N=40) harvested resources from a shared resource pool. Individuals in the Voted-Enforce condition voted on conservation rules and could use economic sanc- tions to enforce them. In other conditions, individuals could not vote (Imposed-Enforce condition), lacked enforcement (Voted condition), or both (Imposed condition). Cooperation was strongest in the Voted-Enforce condition (Phase 2). Moreover, these groups continued to cooperate voluntarily after enforcement was removed later in the experiment. Cooperation was weakest in the Imposed-Enforce condition and degraded after enforcement ceased. Thus, enforcement improved voluntary cooperation only when individuals voted. Perceptions of procedural justice, self-determination, and security were highest in the Voted- Enforced condition. These factors (legitimacy, security) increased voluntary cooperation by promoting rule acceptance and internalized motivation. Voted-Enforce participants also felt closer to one another (i.e., self-other merging), further contribut- ing to their cooperation. Neither voting nor enforcement produced these sustained psychological conditions alone. Voting lacked security without enforcement (Voted condition), so the individuals who disliked the rule (i.e., the losing voters) pil- laged the resource. Enforcement lacked legitimacy without voting (Imposed-Enforce condition), so it crowded out internal reasons for cooperation. Governance interventions should carefully promote security without stifling fundamental needs (e.g., procedural justice) or undermining internal motives for cooperation.

Keywords: cooperation, internalized motivation, institutional acceptance, resource dilemma, social dilemma, voting, sanc- tions, motivational crowding, procedural justice, self-determination, self-other merging.


 

The effect of information in a behavioral irrigation experiment

Janssen, M.A., J.M. Anderies, I. Pérez and D.J. Yu

2015 Water Resources and Economics 12: 14-26.

 Abstract

When governing shared resources, the level and quality of information available to resource users on the actions of others and the state of the environment may have a critical effect on the performance of groups. In the work presented here, we find that lower availability of information does not affect the average performance of the group in terms of their capacity to provide public infrastructure and govern resource use, but it affects the distribution of earnings and the ability to cope with disturbances. We performed behavioral experiments that mimic irrigation dilemmas in which participants need to maintain infrastructure function in order to generate revenue from the use of water. In the experimental design, there is an upstream–downstream asymmetry of access to water that may lead to unequal access to water. We find that inequality of investment in irrigation infrastructure and water appropriation across players is more pronounced in experiments where resource users have limited information about the actions of others. We also find that inequality is linked to the ability of groups to cope with disturbances. Hence a reduced level of information indirectly reduces the adaptive capacity of groups.

Keywords: Public infrastructure; Experimental economics; Inequality; Communication; Asymmetric commons dilemma


 

Voluntary Provision and Fair Distribution of Public Goods based on Goodness: Behavioral Economic Experiments between China and USA

Ying, C., W. Yi and M.A. Janssen

2015 South China Journal of Economics 33(10): 99-114 (in Chinese).

 Abstract

The rational thinking assumption by main stream economics has a far distance from real people. This paper designs a series of behavioral economic experiments (trust, prisoners’ dilemma, public good, dictator and ultimatum games) and conducts them in two university classrooms of China and USA. It shows that people intrinsically have goodness and social thinking, and can provide public goods voluntarily and have fair preference of economic interest distribution. However, the American students show higher trust degree and cooperation level, and stronger preferences of cooperation and fairness than the Chinese ones. Therefore, this paper suggests that policy makers are necessary to fully understand people’s social thinking and micro behavior and they are necessary to emphasize on publicizing this kind of thinking, ability and action, and should provide information platform for people to solve collective dilemmas voluntarily.

Keywords:  Goodness; Thinking Socially; Voluntary Provision; Fair Distribution; Behavioral Economic Experiments

摘 要:主流经济学的理性思维与现实中人的思维存在偏差。本文设计了一系列行为经济实验 (信任、囚徒困境、公共品、独裁和最后通牒实验) 并在中美两国大学课堂上实施。研究表明:人们 天生具有善意本质和社会性思维,能够自愿供给公共品,偏好经济利益的公平分配;而在信任度、合 作偏好、合作水平和公平偏好的量化方面,美方都表现出更高 (强)的特征。本文建议政策制定者 有必要充分了解人们的社会性思维及相应的微观行为,政策的重点有必要充分考虑到这些思维、能 力和行动,以及为人们自愿解决集体行动问题提供信息平台。


 

Irrigation Experiments in the Lab: Trust, Environmental Variability, and Collective Action

Baggio, J.A., Rollins, N.D., I. Perez, and M.A. Janssen

2015 Ecology and Society 20 (4): 12.

 Abstract

Research on collective action and common-pool resources is extensive. However, little work has concentrated on the effect of variability in resource availability and collective action, especially in the context of asymmetric access to resources. Earlier works have demonstrated that environmental variability often leads to a reduction of collective action in the governance of shared resources. Here we assess how environmental variability may impact collective action. We performed a behavioral experiment involving an irrigation dilemma. In this dilemma participants invested first into a public fund that generated water resources for the group, which were subsequently appropriated by one participant at a time from head end to tail end. The amount of resource generated for the given investment level was determined by a payoff table and a stochastic event representing environmental variability, i.e., rainfall. Results show that that (1) upstream users’ behavior is by far the most important variable in determining the outcome of collective action; (2) environmental variability (i.e. risk level in investing in the resource) has little effect on individual investment and extraction levels; and (3) the action-reaction feedback is fundamental in determining the success or failure of communities.

Keywords: asymmetry; common-pool resources; feedbacks; laboratory experiments; trust; variability


 

Social roles and performance of social-ecological systems: evidence from behavioral lab experiments

Perez, I., D.J. Yu. M.A. Janssen and J.M. Anderies

2015 Ecology and Society 20(3): 23.

 Abstract

Social roles are thought to play an important role in determining the capacity for collective action in a community regarding the use of shared resources. Here we report on the results of a study using a behavioral experimental approach regarding the relationship between social roles and the performance of social-ecological systems. The computer-based irrigation experiment that was the basis of this study mimics the decisions faced by farmers in small-scale irrigation systems. In each of 20 rounds, which are analogous to growing seasons, participants face a two-stage commons dilemma. First they must decide how much to invest in the public infrastructure, e.g., canals and water diversion structures. Second, they must decide how much to extract from the water made available by that public infrastructure. Each round begins with a 60-second communication period before the players make their investment and extraction decisions. By analyzing the chat messages exchanged among participants during the communication stage of the experiment, we coded up to three roles per participant using the scheme of seven roles known to be important in the literature: leader, knowledge generator, connector, follower, moralist, enforcer, and observer. Our study supports the importance of certain social roles (e.g., connector) previously highlighted by several case study analyses. However, using qualitative comparative analysis we found that none of the individual roles was sufficient for groups to succeed, i.e., to reach a certain level of group production. Instead, we found that a combination of at least five roles was necessary for success. In addition, in the context of upstream-downstream asymmetry, we observed a pattern in which social roles assumed by participants tended to differ by their positions. Although our work generated some interesting insights, further research is needed to determine how robust our findings are to different action situations, such as biophysical context, social network, and resource uncertainty.

Keywords: behavioral experiments; communication; irrigation systems; lab experiments; qualitative comparative analysis; social-ecological networks; social-ecological systems; social roles


 

Experimental platforms for behavioral experiments on social-ecological systems

Janssen, M.A., A. Lee, and T. Waring

2014 Ecology and Society 19 (4): 20.

 Abstract

Recently, there has been an increased interest in using behavioral experiments to study hypotheses on the governance of social-ecological systems. A diversity of software tools are used to implement such experiments. We evaluated various publicly available platforms that could be used in research and education on the governance of social-ecological systems. The aims of the various platforms are distinct, and this is noticeable in the differences in their user-friendliness and their adaptability to novel research questions. The more easily accessible platforms are useful for prototyping experiments and for educational purposes to illustrate theoretical concepts. To advance novel research aims, more elaborate programming experience is required to either implement an experiment from scratch or adjust existing experimental software. There is no ideal platform best suited for all possible use cases, but we have provided a menu of options and their associated trade-offs.

Keywords: education; lab experiments; research; software


 

The effect of constrained communication and limited information in governing a common resource

Janssen, M.A., M. Tyson, and A. Lee

2014 International Journal of the Commons  8(2): 617-635.

 Abstract

Allowing resource users to communicate in behavioural experiments on commons dilemmas increases the level of cooperation. In actual common pool resource dilemmas in the real world, communication is costly, which is an important detail missing from most typical experiments. We conducted experiments where participants must give up harvesting opportunities to communicate. The constrained communication treatment is compared with the effect of limited information about the state of the resource and the actions of the other participants. We find that despite making communication costly, performance of groups improves in all treatments with communication. We also find that constraining communication has a more significant effect than limiting information on the performance of groups.

Keywords: common pool resource, conditional cooperation, costly communication, lab experiments, limited information


 

Commuter’s Mode Choice as a Coordination Problem: A framed field experiment on traffic policy in Hyderabad, India

Chidambaram, B, M.A. Janssen, J. Rommel, and D. Zikos

2014 Transportation Research A: Policy and Practice 65:9-22.

 Abstract

All major Indian cities face a severe transport crisis, with the number of cars on the road increasing every day. Policy makers are trying to keep pace with this growth by supplying more roads, largely neglecting demand-side policy measures. We have developed an economic experiment to investigate behavioral responses of citizens to such measures. Drawing on a sample of 204 white-collar commuters from Hyderabad, India, we model mode choice as a coordination problem and analyze how bus subsidies, increased parking costs, and public information on preferential car use can affect mode choice. We find that pecuniary treatments are effective for shifting behavior towards socially more desirable outcomes and increasing total benefits. Mode choice is relatively unaffected by socio-economic variables like gender, education or income but is significantly affected by actual traffic behavior. We discuss limitations of the applied sampling, conclude with a critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of economic experiments in transportation research, and offer an outlook on how further experimentation could enrich the policy debate.

Keywords: Coordination game; Experimental economics; Hyderabad; India; Mode switching; Public transport


 

A multi-method approach to study robustness of social-ecological systems: the case of small-scale irrigation systems

Janssen, M.A. and J.M. Anderies

2013 Journal of Institutional Economics 9(4): 427-447.

 Abstract

Elinor Ostrom was a leader in using multiple methods to perform institutional analysis. In this paper, we discuss how a multi-method approach she pioneered may be used to study the robustness of social–ecological systems. We synthesize lessons learned from a series of studies on small-scale irrigation systems in which we use case-study analysis, experimental methods in laboratory and field settings, and mathematical models. The accumulated insights show the importance of creating institutional arrangements that fit the human ecology within the biophysical constraints of the system. The examples of work based on multiple methods approaches presented here highlight several lessons. For example, experimental work helps us better understand the details of how the ability to maintain trust relationships, low levels of inequality, and low transaction costs of coordination are critical for success. Likewise, the integration of case-study analysis and modeling helps us better understand how systems that can leverage biophysical characteristics to help address challenges of monitoring, sanctioning, and coordination may be able to increase their chances of success.


 

The role of information in governing the commons: experimental results

Janssen, M.A.

2013 Ecology and Society 18 (4): 4.

 Abstract

The structure and dynamics of ecosystems can affect the information available to resource users on the state of the common resource and the actions of other resource users. We present results from laboratory experiments that showed that the availability of information about the actions of other participants affected the level of cooperation. Since most participants in commons dilemmas can be classified as conditional cooperators, not having full information about the actions of others may affect their decisions. When participants had more information about others, there was a more rapid reduction of the resource in the first round of the experiment. When communication was allowed, limiting the information available made it harder to develop effective institutional arrangements. When communication was not allowed, there was a more rapid decline of performance in groups where information was limited. In sum, the results suggest that making information available to others can have an important impact on the conditional cooperation and the effectiveness of communication.

Keywords: common pool resource; communication; conditional cooperation; information; institutions


 

Environmental variability and collective action: Experimental insights from an irrigation game

Anderies, J.M., M.A. Janssen, A. Lee and H. Wasserman

2013 Ecological Economics 93: 166-176.

 Abstract

Studies of collective action in commons dilemmas in social–ecological systems typically focus on scenarios in which actors all share symmetric (or similar) positions in relation to the common-pool resource. Many common social–ecological systems do not meet these criteria, most notably, irrigation systems. Participants in irrigation systems must solve two related collective action problems: 1) the provisioning of physical infrastructure necessary to utilize the resource (water), and 2) the asymmetric common-pool resource dilemma where the relative positions of “head-enders” and “tail-enders” generate asymmetric access to the resource itself (water). In times of scarcity, head-enders have an incentive to not share water with tail-enders. Likewise, tail-enders have an incentive to not provide labor to maintain the system if they do not receive water. These interdependent incentives may induce a cooperative outcome under favorable conditions. However, how robust is this system of interdependent incentives in the presence of environmental variability that generates uncertainty about water availability either through variation in the water supply itself or through shocks to infrastructure? This paper reports on results from laboratory experiments designed to address this question.

Keywords: Commons dilemmas; Uncertainty; Experiments; Collective action; Irrigation


 

Predicting Behavior in New Behavioral Experiments: Outcomes of a Modeling Competition

Janssen, M.A. and N.D. Rollins

2012 Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 15 (3) 5.

 Abstract

This paper reports the results of the inaugural modeling competition sponsored by the Network for Computational SocioEcological Sciences (CoMSES Network). Competition participants were provided with a dataset collected from human-subjects experiments and were asked to develop an agent-based model that replicated behavioral patterns reflected in the data with the goal of using the model to predict behavioral changes in a slightly modified experimental treatment. The data were collected in a resource foraging experiment in which human subjects moved avatars on a computer screen to harvest tokens in a common pool resource. In the original experiments, on which the competition participants based their models, the subjects possessed full information about the state of the resource and the actions of the other group members sharing the resource. The competition challenged participants to predict what would happen if the experimental subjects had limited vision. Using only the data from the original experiment, participants had to design a model that would predict the behavioral changes that would be observed in the new experiment treatment. We compared the models on their assumptions about speed, direction, and harvesting decisions agents make. All the submitted models underestimated the amount of resources harvested. The best performing model was the simplest model submitted and had the best fit with the original dataset provided.

Keywords: Pattern-Oriented Modeling, Competition, Calibration, Empirical Data, Behavioral Experiments


 

Field Experiments of Irrigation Dilemmas

Janssen, M.A., F. Bousquet, J.C. Cardenas, D. Castillo, and K. Worrapimphong

2012 Agricultural Systems 109: 65-75.

 Abstract

It is often assumed that irrigation systems require a central authority to solve coordination problems due to the asymmetry in position and influence between those located at the head-end of a system and those located at the tail-end. However, many examples of complex irrigation systems exist that are self-organized without central coordination. Field experiments on asymmetric commons dilemmas are performed with villagers in rural Colombia and Thailand. Our experiments show that there is a dynamic interaction between equality in the use of the common resource, and the level of the contributions to the creation of a common resource. Inequality in the distribution of benefits in one round triggers lower levels of group contributions, reducing efficiency and triggering even more inequality in contributions and distribution of the resource among players.

The upstream players act as “stationary bandits”. They take more than an equal share of the common resource, but leave sufficient resources for the downstream players to stimulate them to continue their contributions to the public infrastructure.

After 10 rounds, players can vote on one of three allocation rules: equal quota, random and rotating access to appropriation of the resource. The rotating access is most often elected. The resource dynamics in the second part of the experiment depend on the rule elected. With the quota rule, the stationary bandit metaphor is less relevant since taking equal shares of the resource is enforced. With the rotation access rule, the players act strategically on the rotating position. They invest more when having the first access to the resource compared to less favorable access. And when they have first access they extract the main part of the common resource. The rotation rule led to a reduction of the performance of the groups. With the random access rule there is no such strategic investment behavior and participants remain investing equal and similar levels as in the first 10 rounds.

The experiments show that a necessary condition of irrigation systems to self-organize is the development of norms to allocate fair shares of the water in order to recruit sufficient labor to construct and maintain the physical infrastructure. The different allocation rules do not increase efficiency, but they did increase equality of the earnings.

Keywords: Field experiments; Irrigation; Common pool resources; Asymmetry; Trust


 

Evolution of Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas

Janssen, M.A. and N. Rollins

2012 Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization 81(1): 220-229.

 Abstract

Field experiments with asymmetric commons dilemmas have shown that groups who are able to derive high social efficiency also had higher equity compared to groups who were not able to derive significant levels of social efficiency. These findings resemble the high productivity in long-lasting irrigation systems based on self-governance. We present an agent-based model based on cultural group selection that shows that the patterns observed in the field experiments can be evolved in cases where agents participate regularly in less challenging symmetric public good dilemmas. These results indicate that cooperation in asymmetric dilemmas can evolve and persist when the agents contend with other social dilemmas than the asymmetric dilemmas.

Keywords: Common pool resources; Equity; Asymmetry; Field experiments; Agent-based; Modeling


 

Coordination and Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas

Janssen, M.A., J.M. Anderies and S. Joshi

2011 Experimental Economics 14(4): 547-566.

 Abstract

In this paper we discuss laboratory experiments that address the problem of self-governance in an asymmetric commons dilemma. Small-scale irrigation systems that provide food for hundreds of millions of people around the world are probably the most common example of such dilemmas. Here, we formulate an abstract dilemma in which subjects make both a decision about investment in the provision of infrastructure associated with the use of a resource and about how much to extract from the common-pool resource made available by this infrastructure. The impact of inherent asymmetry in irrigation systems on the provision of a resource and the impact of communication on the capacity of the group to solve the two-level commons dilemma of cooperation and coordination based on the analysis of the experimental data are discussed.

Keywords: Common-pool resources; Asymmetry; Irrigation; Fairness; Real-time experiment


 

Context matters to explain field experiments: results from Thai and Colombian fishing villages

Castillo, D., F. Bousquet, M.A. Janssen, K. Worrapimphong, and J-C. Cardenas

2011 Ecological Economics 70(9): 1609-1620.

 Abstract

During the last decade, field experiments regarding the study of common pool resource governance have been performed that replicated earlier findings of laboratory experiments. One of the questions is how the decisions made by participants in rural communities are influenced by their experience. This paper presents the results of field experiments in Colombia and Thailand on fishery resources. Context information is derived from the communities via in-depth interviews, surveys and role playing exercises. The use of different methodological tools allowed to link decisions in field experiments with contextual variables for two fishery villages. Explanation of core variables in social dilemmas is given, the degree of cooperation levels, preferred rules, rule compliance and enforcement. Main findings include: i) fishermen made decisions in the field experiments that reflected their own experience and context, ii) agreements for rule crafting are possible only under specific conditions that guarantees livelihoods and sustainability, iii) the broader context determines cooperation levels at a local level, iv) inequalities in the sanctioning of rule breakers decrease the possibilities of reaching cooperation agreements, and v) high levels of trust among local fishermen is not a sufficient condition for resource sustainability, when trust in external rule makers and enforcers is low.

Keywords: Field experiments; Role games; Fisheries; Rules; Cooperation; Trust


 

Head-enders as stationary bandits in asymmetric commons: Comparing irrigation experiments in the laboratory and the field

Janssen, M.A., J.M. Anderies and J.C. Cardenas

2011 Ecological Economics 70(9): 1590-1598.

 Abstract

The emergence of large-scale irrigation systems has puzzled generations of social scientists, since they are particularly vulnerable to selfish rational actors who might exploit inherent asymmetries in the system (e.g. simply being the head-ender) or who might free ride on the provision of public infrastructure. As part of two related research projects that focus on how subtle social and environmental contextual variables affect the evolution and performance of institutional rules, several sets of experiments have been performed in laboratory settings at Arizona State University and in field settings in rural villages in Thailand and Colombia. In these experiments, participants make both a decision about how much to invest in public infrastructure and how much to extract from the resources generated by that public infrastructure. With both studies we find that head-enders act as stationary bandits. They do take unequal shares of the common-pool resource but if their share is very large relative to downstream participants’ shares, the latter will revolt. Therefore for groups to be successful, head-enders must restrain themselves in their use of their privileged access to the common-pool resource. The comparative approach shows that this result is robust across different social and ecological contexts.

Keywords: Common pool resources; Experimental economics; Asymmetry; Irrigation


 

The challenge of understanding decisions in experimental studies of common pool resource governance

Anderies, J.M., M. A. Janssen, F. Bousquet, J-C. Cardenas, D. Castillo, M-C. Lopez, R. Tobias, B. Vollan, A. Wutich

2011 Ecological Economics 70 (9): 1571-1579.

 Abstract

Common pool resource experiments in the laboratory and the field have provided insights that have contrasted to those derived from conventional non-cooperative game theory. Contrary to predictions from non-cooperative game theory, participants are sometimes willing to restrain voluntarily from over extracting resources and use costly punishment to sanction other participants. Something as simple as face-to-face communication has been shown to increase average earnings significantly. In the next generation of experiments, both in the laboratory and in the field, we need to extract more information that provides insight concerning why people make the decisions they make. More information is needed concerning attributes of individuals as well as the social and social–ecological context in which they interact that may give rise to such deviations from theoretical predictions. In the process of extracting more information from participants and the contexts in which they interact, we face several methodological and ethical challenges which we address in this paper.

Keywords: Common pool resources; Collective action; Experimental economics; Methodology; Context


 

Does greater product information actually inform consumer decisions?: The relationship between product information quantity and diversity of consumer decisions

Sasaki, T., D. V. Becker, M.A. Janssen and R. Nee

2011 Journal of Economic Psychology 32(3): 391-398.

 Abstract

For many consumer goods, the advent of online markets dramatically increases the amount of information available about products’ different features and qualities. Although numerous studies have investigated the effects of information quantity on individual-level decisions, it is still unknown how the amount of attribute information affects group-level patterns of behavior, particularly when consumers are also aware of a choice’s popularity. In the present studies, we hypothesized that when attribute information increases, it may exceed the individual’s cognitive capacity to process this information, and as a result conformity – choosing the most popular item – becomes more likely. In this study, we first examined empirical data collected from human subject experiments in a simulated online shopping experience, and then developed an agent-based model (ABM) to explore this behavioral clustering. Both studies confirmed our primary hypotheses, and the ABM shows promise as a tool for exploring extensions of these ideas.

Keywords: Consumer behavior; Decision making; Cognitive processes; Computer simulation


 

Introducing Ecological Dynamics into Common-Pool Resource Experiments

Janssen, M.A.

2010 Ecology and Society 15 (2): 7.

 Abstract

Case-study analysis shows that long-lasting social–ecological systems have institutional arrangements regulating where, when, and how to appropriate resources instead of how much. Those cases testify to the importance of the fit between ecological and institutional dynamics. Experiments are increasingly used to study decision making, test alternative behavioral models, and test policies. In typical commons dilemma experiments, the only possible decision is how much to appropriate. Therefore, conventional experiments restrict the option to study the interplay between ecological and institutional dynamics. Using a new real-time, spatial, renewable resource environment, we can study the informal norms that participants develop in an experimental resource dilemma setting. Do ecological dynamics affect the institutional arrangements they develop? We find that the informal institutions developed on when, where, and how to appropriate the resource vary with the ecological dynamics in the different treatments. Finally, we find that the amount and distribution of communication messages and not the content of the communication explains the differences between group performances.

Keywords: common-pool resources; communication; institutional innovation; laboratory experiments; problem of fit


 

Lab Experiments for the Study of Social-Ecological Systems

Janssen, M.A., R. Holahan, A. Lee and E. Ostrom

2010 Science 328: 613-617.

 Abstract

Governance of social-ecological systems is a major policy problem of the contemporary era. Field studies of fisheries, forests, and pastoral and water resources have identified many variables that influence the outcomes of governance efforts. We introduce an experimental environment that involves spatial and temporal resource dynamics in order to capture these two critical variables identified in field research. Previous behavioral experiments of commons dilemmas have found that people are willing to engage in costly punishment, frequently generating increases in gross benefits, contrary to game-theoretical predictions based on a static pay-off function. Results in our experimental environment find that costly punishment is again used but lacks a gross positive effect on resource harvesting unless combined with communication. These findings illustrate the importance of careful generalization from the laboratory to the world of policy.


 

Pattern-oriented modeling of commons dilemma experiments

Janssen, M.A., N.P. Radtke, A. Lee

2009 Adaptive Behavior 17:508-523.

 Abstract

A major challenge in the development of computational models of collective behavior is the empirical validation. Experimental data from a spatially explicit dynamic commons dilemma experiment is used to empirically ground an agent-based model. Three distinct patterns are identified in the data. Two naïve models, random walk and greedy agents, do not produce data that match the patterns. A more comprehensive model is presented that explains how participants make movement and harvest decisions. Using pattern-oriented modeling the parameter space is explored to identify the parameter combinations that meet the three identified patterns. Less than 0.1% of the parameter combinations meet all the patterns. These parameter settings were used to successfully predict the patterns of a new set of experiments.

Keywords: empirically grounded agent-based modeling; commons dilemma; individual decision making; human experiments


 

TURFs in the lab: Institutional Innovation in dynamic interactive spatial commons

Janssen, M.A., and E. Ostrom

2008 Rationality and Society 20(4): 371-397.

 Abstract

Using a real-time, spatial, renewable resource environment, we observe participants in a set of experiments formulating informal rules during communication sessions over three decision rounds. In all three rounds, the resource is open access. Without communication, the resource is persistently and rapidly depleted. With face-to-face communication, we observe informal arrangements to divide up space and slow down the harvesting rate in various ways. We observe that experienced participants, who have participated in an earlier experiment where private property was used as one way of controlling harvesting in this renewable resource environment, are more effective in creating rules, although they mimic the private-property regime of their prior experience. Inexperienced participants need an extra round to reach the same level of resource use, but they craft diverse arrays of novel rule sets.

Keywords: common-pool resources; laboratory experiments; communication; institutional innovation


 

Effect of rule choice in dynamic interactive spatial commons

Janssen, M.A., R.L. Goldstone, F. Menczer and E. Ostrom

2008 International Journal of the Commons 2(2): 288-312.

 Abstract

This paper uses laboratory experiments to examine the effect of an endogenous rule change from open access to private property as a potential solution to overharvesting in commons dilemmas. A novel, spatial, real-time renewable resource environment was used to investigate whether participants were willing to invest in changing the rules from an open access situation to a private property system. We found that half of the participants invested in creating private property arrangements. Groups who had experienced private property in the second round of the experiment, made different decisions in the third round when open access was reinstituted in contrast to groups who experienced three rounds of open access. At the group level, earnings increased in Round 3, but this was at a cost of more inequality. No significant differences in outcomes occurred between experiments where rules were imposed by the experimental design or chosen by participants.

Keywords: system resources, theoretical analysis, Common-pool resources, institutional change, laboratory experiments, open access, private property


 

Learning, Signaling and Social Preferences in Public Good Games

Janssen, M.A and T.K. Ahn

2006 Ecology and Society 11(2): 21.

 Abstract

This study compares the empirical performance of a variety of learning models and theories of social preferences in the context of experimental games involving the provision of public goods. Parameters are estimated via maximum likelihood estimation. We also performed estimations to identify different types of agents and distributions of parameters. The estimated models suggest that the players of such games take into account the learning of others and are belief learners. Despite these interesting findings, we conclude that a powerful method of model selection of agent-based models on dynamic social dilemma experiments is still lacking.

Keywords: laboratory experiments; public goods; agent-based model; learning; social preferences


 


Book Chapters
 

An Agent-based Model based on Field Experiments

Janssen, M.A.

2014 In Empirical agent-based-modelling - Challenges and Solutions: Volume 1: The Characterisation and Parameterisation of Empirical Agent-Based Models, edited by A. Smaigl and C. Barreteau, pp. 189-205, Springer.

 Abstract

This chapter described the empirical calibration of a theoretical model based on data from field experiments. Field experiments on irrigation dilemmas were performed to understand how resource users overcome asymmetric collective action problems. The fundamental problem facing irrigation systems is how to solve two related collective action problems: (1) the provision of the physical and ecological infrastructure necessary to utilize the resource (water), and (2) the irrigation dilemma where the relative positions of “head-enders” and “tail-enders” generate a sequential access to the resource itself (water). If actors act as rational, self-interested, agents, it is difficult to understand how irrigation infrastructure would ever be constructed and maintained by the farmers obtaining water from a system as contrasted to a government irrigation bureaucracy. Wittfogel (1957) argued that a central control was indispensable for the functioning of larger irrigation systems and hypothesized that some state-level societies have emerged as a necessary side-effect of solving problems associated with the use of large-scale irrigation.


 

Comparing Agent-Based Models on Experimental data of Irrigation Games

Baggio, J.A. and M.A. Janssen

2013 In Proceedings of the 2013 Winter Simulation Conference, edited by R. Pasupathy, S.-H. Kim, A. Tolk, R. Hill, and M. E. Kuh, pp.1743-1753, .

Using artificial agents to understand laboratory experiments of common-pool resources with real agents

Jager, A. and M.A. Janssen

2002 In Complexity and Ecosystem Management: The Theory and Practice of Multi-agent Systems, edited by Janssen, M.A., pp. 75-102, Edward Elgar Publishers, Cheltenham UK/ Northampton, MA, USA.


Miscellaneous
 

Social Dilemmas Are Only Part of the Story to Explain Overharvesting of Renewable Resources

Janssen, M.A.
2016 CBIE Working paper 2016-002.

 Abstract

We report on experiments with a spatial explicit dynamic resource where individuals make incentivized real-time decisions when and where to harvest the resource units. We test how individuals make decisions when they manage the resource on their own, or share a resource twice the size with another person. We find that most individuals do not harvest resources close to the optimal strategy when they manage the resource individually, and this relates to their understanding of the instructions and their social orientation. Cooperators let resources grow even when there is no social dilemma. In group rounds, there is more overharvesting, especially if participants are selfish and have a low understanding of the instructions. The results show that a better understanding of the motivations of participants is needed to explain the observed behavior.


 

Cooperation in Asymmetric Commons Dilemmas

Perez, I, J. Baggio, N. Rollins and M.A. Janssen
2012 CSID Working paper #CSID_2012-012

 Abstract

This paper is a study of collective action in asymmetric access to a common resource. An example is an irrigation system with upstream and downstream resource users. While both contribute to the maintenance of the common infrastructure, the upstream participant has rst access to the resource. Results of our two-player asymmetric commons game show that privileged resource access player invest more than the downstream players. Investments by the downstream player into the common resource are rewarded by a higher share from the common resource by the upstream player. Decisions are mainly explained by the levels of trust and trustworthiness. Introducing uncertainty in the production function of the common resource did not aect the results in a signicant way.


 

Sort Publications: