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J Theor Biol. 2012 Apr 21;299:152-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.07.003. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

The survival of the conformist: social pressure and renewable resource management.

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Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, London WC2A2AZ, England.


This paper examines the role of other-regarding behavior as a mechanism for the establishment and maintenance of cooperation in resource use under variable social and environmental conditions. By coupling resource stock dynamics with social dynamics concerning compliance to a social norm prescribing non-excessive resource extraction in a common pool resource, we show that when reputational considerations matter and a sufficient level of social stigma affects the violators of a norm, sustainable outcomes are achieved. We find large parameter regions where norm-observing and norm-violating types coexist, and analyze to what extent such coexistence depends on the environment.

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