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Averting Depletion in a Two-Player Common Pool Resource Game: Being Seen, the Expectation of Future Encounters, and Biophilia Play a Role in Cooperation

Bonfrisco, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1527-8051, Russell, Y. I. ORCID: 0000-0003-4608-4791, Broom, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1698-5495 & Spencer, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-0860-4717 (2024). Averting Depletion in a Two-Player Common Pool Resource Game: Being Seen, the Expectation of Future Encounters, and Biophilia Play a Role in Cooperation. Dynamic Games and Applications, doi: 10.1007/s13235-024-00557-8


Using a two-player common pool resource game, we investigated the influence of multiple factors on cooperation: (1) probability of future rounds, (2) visibility of other participants, (3) biophilia, (4) future discounting, and (5) life history. In each round, participants simultaneously and independently (without conferring) decided how much of the common pool to consume. Participants (n = 116) were informed that the shared resource would be fully replenished in the next round—but only if—both players together consumed ≤ 50% of the common pool in the current round. Additionally, participants were told the probability (0–100%) of further rounds of play with the same player (this probability was not real; it was purely to manipulate the player’s expectations). To assess the effect of the probability of future rounds, we developed a mathematical model to predict the threshold that would permit a Nash Equilibrium of Conditional Cooperation (CC). To manipulate visibility, half the pairs were tested in the same room (seen condition) and half in separate rooms (unseen condition). To measure biophilia, the “Nature Relatedness” (NR) scale was used. To measure future discounting, the “consideration of future consequences” (CFC) scale was used. To measure life history, the participant’s UK postcode was obtained (indicating possible residence in a deprived neighbourhood). Participants in our study were not paid. In our results, there was a significant effect showing more cooperation in the visible than not visible condition, but no significant effects of NR, CFC, nor postcodes (but NR was significant in interaction with visibility). For predictability of future rounds, we found a number of significant effects using different tests. A notable result was that there was significantly more CC when the probability of future rounds was ≥ 69% (congruent with one of our model predictions).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: common-pool resources, laboratory experiments, cooperation, Nash equilibrium, future discounting, biophilia
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Science & Technology
School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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[thumbnail of Bonfrisco Russell Broom Spencer revisions December 8.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 28 January 2025 due to copyright restrictions.


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