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Communicating sentiment and outlook reverses inaction against collective risks

Wang, Zhen; Jusup, Marko; Guo, Hao; Shi, Lei; Geček, Sunčana; Anand, Mathur; Perc, Matjaž; Bauch, Chris H.; Kurths, Jurgen; Boccaletti, Stefano; Schnellhuber, Hans Joachim (2020) Communicating sentiment and outlook reverses inaction against collective risks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117 (30). pp. 17650-17655. ISSN 0027-8424

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Collective risks permeate society, triggering social dilemmas in which working toward a common goal is impeded by selfish interests. One such dilemma is mitigating runaway climate change. To study the social aspects of climate-change mitigation, we organized an experimental game and asked volunteer groups of three different sizes to invest toward a common mitigation goal. If investments reached a preset target, volunteers would avoid all consequences and convert their remaining capital into monetary payouts. In the opposite case, however, volunteers would lose all their capital with 50% probability. The dilemma was, therefore, whether to invest one’s own capital or wait for others to step in. We find that communicating sentiment and outlook helps to resolve the dilemma by a fundamental shift in investment patterns. Groups in which communication is allowed invest persistently and hardly ever give up, even when their current investment deficits are substantial. The improved investment patterns are robust to group size, although larger groups are harder to coordinate, as evidenced by their overall lower success frequencies. A clustering algorithm reveals three behavioral types and shows that communication reduces the abundance of the free-riding type. Climate-change mitigation, however, is achieved mainly by cooperator and altruist types stepping up and increasing contributions as the failure looms. Meanwhile, contributions from free riders remain flat throughout the game. This reveals that the mechanisms behind avoiding collective risks depend on an interaction between behavioral type, communication, and timing.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: group size
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Interdisciplinary Natural Sciences > Environmental Science
Divisions: Division for Marine and Enviromental Research
Project titleProject leaderProject codeProject type
Prilagodba uzgoja bijele ribe klimatskim promjenama-AqADAPTTin KlanjščekIP-2018-01-3150HRZZ
Depositing User: Tin Klanjšček
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2021 09:02
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1922345117

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