Smaller saami herding groups cooperate more in a public goods experiment
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHuman Ecology. 2016, 44 (5), 633-642 10.1007/s10745-016-9848-3
Group living often entails a balance between individual selfinterest and benefits to the group as a whole. Situations in which an individual’s vested interests conflict with collective interests are known as social dilemmas (Kollock 1998). More formally, a theoretical game becomes a social dilemma when an equilibriumof dominant strategies leads to worse outcomes for all players compared to a more cooperative but nonequilibrium strategy (Zelmer 2003; Cardenas and Carpenter 2008). For example, arms races, climate change, the Cold War, credit markets, eBay, exploitation of fisheries, irrigation scheduling, overpopulation, pollution, price wars, voting, water supply and welfare states all give rise to social dilemmas (Kollock 1998; Wydick 2008). Researchers have identified various mutually inclusive routes to solving social dilemmas, including interacting with kin and/or cooperative individuals, communication, coordination, exclusion, institutions, leadership, legislation, mobility, monitoring, parcelling out cooperation or access to resources, partner choice, partner control, policing, punishment, repeated reciprocalinteractions, rewards, sanctions, and social norms (Trivers 2005; West et al. 2007; Levin 2014; Raihani and Bshary 2015). Social dilemmas pervade the pastoralist way of life. Individual herders must balance their interests (e.g., generating income and managing the inherent risks of pastoralism) with the interests of their herding group and the wider community facing similar challenges (Næss et al. 2012; Næss and Bårdsen 2015). Pastoralists such as Saami reindeer herders in Norway face social dilemmas across a range of scales and have a variety of individual and collective strategies for solving them.