The present study (N = 200) investigated participants' attributions for explaining the behavior of noncooperative and cooperative targets in a commons and anticommons dilemma. The attribution dimensions of concern for others, fear, (low levels of) greed, and efficiency were highly related and were interpreted to reflect prosocial orientation. Cooperative targets were judged as more prosocial, but these differences were more pronounced in the commons than in the anticommons dilemma. Crossover interaction effects were obtained for ignorance and fear, revealing higher attribution scores for the noncooperative target in the commons dilemma and the cooperative target in the anticommons dilemma. It is argued that commons and anticommons dilemmas constitute different frames of reference for judging cooperative behavior.

ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal of applied social psychology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

van Hiel, A., Vanneste, S., & de Cremer, D. (2008). Why did they claim too much? the role of causal attributions in explaining level of cooperation in commons and anticommons dilemmas. Journal of applied social psychology, 38(1), 173–197. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00301.x