Social Dilemmas

Sometimes, managers find themselves involved in a prisoner's dilemma that contains several people (e.g., in the opening example of the research group). In these types of situations, negotiators find themselves choosing between cooperative strategies and self-interested strategies. The multiperson prisoner's dilemma is known as a social dilemma. (See Sidebars 11-1 and 11-2 for other types of social dilemma—volunteer dilemmas and ultimatum dilemmas.) In general, people tend to behave more competitively (in a self-interested fashion) in social dilemmas as compared to prisoner's dilemmas. Why is this?

First, the prisoner's dilemma involves two parties; the social dilemma involves several people. This size difference is important. ...

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