From Tragedy to Win-Win Transforming Social Dilemmas in Commons


"Prisoner’s Dilemma, Chicken, and Stag Hunt games provide elementary two-person models of social dilemma situations that can be at the heart of a tragedy of the commons, where individual incentives discourage cooperation that could be better for everyone. Looking at the outcomes of mutual cooperation or mutual defection helps distinguish between different social dilemmas, which pose different challenges for crafting governance solutions. Changes that switch the ranking of different outcomes can transform Prisoner’s Dilemma into a Stag Hunt and then into a fully-aligned game of Concord/No Conflict; similarly, Chicken can be turned into Concord. The Robinson-Goforth topology of payoff swaps in 2x2 games maps potential transformations in social dilemmas and other 2x2 games, offering insights into pathways and mechanisms for turning tragedy into cooperation. The potential transformations in social dilemmas help understand opportunities for “changing the game,” crafting governance to improve collective action in commons and turning social dilemmas into win-win cooperation."



tragedy of the commons, social dilemmas, game theory, cooperation, climate change