Social dilemmas

A matter of self-interest?

Self-interest is in many ways natural, but at the same time conflicting with many collective goals.  A well-known example of a real-world social dilemma is the problem of over-fishing, Whereas individual fishermen may be tempted to fish as much as they can, if they all do so the fish population might become depleted, which it detrimental to all fishermen. But over-fishing is only one of many examples. Maintaining or promoting a clean, unpolluted, and healthy environment calls for some investment or self-restraint.  Maintaining or promoting a healthy and productive work unit or organization calls for a willingness to go the extra mile.  And maintaining a stable and healthy relationship, close or business-like, calls for accommodation and sacrifice.

Plaatje In-Mind EdK

Illustration by Mirjam Ouwehand.

Want to know more?

There is an exceptionally rich literature on this topic that is extremely well-recognized in the various scientific disciplines, such as anthropology, biology, economics, mathematics, political science, psychology, or sociology.  After all, theorists and professionals alike like to know the basics of human cooperation, including tendencies such as aggression, retaliation, free-riding, as well as altruism, generosity, and feelings of “we-ness”.  Find more on the next page on Social Dilemmas.