A Multiattribute Evaluation Approach to Structural Change in Resource Dilemmas Academic Article uri icon


  • This study investigated the effects of social values, efficiency of resource use, and inequity on harvest behavior and preferences for structural change in a resource dilemma. Evaluation of allocation systems was conceptualized as a multiattribute utility problem in which overall preference is represented as a simple additive weighted function of a set of attribute ratings. Undergraduates, in groups of six, harvested resource units from a common, replenishable pool over 10 trials. Following the harvest trials, subjects were asked to evaluate and choose among several allocation systems for the second session. The 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design crossed two levels of social value orientation (cooperative, noncooperative) with two levels of group resource use (extreme overuse, moderate overuse) and variance in others′ purported harvests (low, high). As predicted, a higher proportion of cooperative subjects voted for a superordinate authority system in the extreme overuse conditions compared to the moderate overuse conditions. The majority of noncooperators, however, rejected this structural change regardless of the state of the resource pool. Additionally, cooperators placed greater importance on the fairness dimension while noncooperators assigned greater weight to the self-interest dimension in their evaluations of structural change alternatives. The results suggest the need for an interactionist perspective on structural change in social dilemmas. © 1993 by Academic Press, Inc.

published proceedings

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

author list (cited authors)

  • Samuelson, C. D

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Samuelson, Charles D

publication date

  • July 1993