A simulation study shows that cooperation can emerge as the dominant strategy in a “tragedy of the commons game” when:
- groups are small
- there is long term memory (So as to weed out those who cheat.)
As this is a computer simulation game, one has to wonder if human (irrational) behavior will change these results if tested empirically, or if it holds up in a real world context.
The tragedy of the commons, a concept described by ecologist Garrett Hardin, paints a grim view of human nature. The theory goes that, if a resource is shared, individuals will act in their own self-interest, but against the interest of the group, by depleting that resource.