In the Science edition of April 30, a paper of mine appeared on my work on experiments of social-ecological systems. We introduce our experimental environment (see a screenshot in the Figure) that includes relevant ecological spatial and temporal complexity that allows us to test observations from field studies in controlled settings. In contrast to traditional economic experiments participants need to make many decisions during each four minute period while the environment is changing real-time.
Although the experiments are done with undergraduate students, it enables us to test the consequences of a more comprehensive experimental environment. We do not aim to provide a solution to governance of social-ecological systems in general as some criticasters may imply. We show that in our more comprehensive environment costly santioning has no possitive effect at all. However, cheap talk has a strong positive and long lasting effective, although we are not sure the precise reason for this.
We hope that this study will stimulate a tighter connection between field work and experiments, as well as a focus on understanding the role of communication.