social dilemma

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An interactive decision in which individual interests are at odds with collective interests, the pursuit of individual self-interest by every decision maker leaving everyone worse off than if each had acted cooperatively. In empirical studies, social dilemmas are presented in one of three general forms, called N-person Prisoner's Dilemmas, public goods dilemmas, and resource dilemmas, and they have been used to model problems of inflation and voluntary wage restraint, conservation of scarce natural resources, environmental pollution, arms races and multilateral disarmament, mob behaviour, and many other social problems involving cooperation and trust. The Prisoner's Dilemma game is a social dilemma restricted to two interacting decision makers. See also commons dilemma. [So called because it is an extension of the Prisoner's Dilemma game and models social problems]

Subjects: Psychology.

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