Controlled Behavioural Experiments

This page focuses on controlled behavioural experiments, methods that randomly divide participants into different groups (treatments), controlling conditions across these treatments and allowing only the variable of interest to vary. Controlled behavioural experiments are used to test the conditions under which we can expect collective action to emerge. The content on this page discusses controlled behavioural experiments in the form of common-pool resource games and public good games.

The Chapter summary video gives a brief introduction and summary of this group of methods, what SES problems/questions they are useful for, and key resources needed to conduct the methods. The methods video/s introduce specific methods, including their origin and broad purpose, what SES problems/questions the specific method is useful for, examples of the method in use and key resources needed. The Case Studies demonstrate the method in action in more detail, including an introduction to the context and issue, how the method was used, the outcomes of the process and the challenges of implementing the method. The labs/activities give an example of a teaching activity relating to this group of methods, including the objectives of the activity, resources needed, steps to follow and outcomes/evaluation options.

More details can be found in Chapter 21 of the Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems.

Chapter summary:

This video introduces the concept of Controlled Behavioural Experiments.

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Key Publications related to Controlled Behavioural Experiments:
  • Anderies, J.M., M.A Janssen, F. Bousquet, J.C. Cárdenas, D. Castillo, M-C. Lopez, R. Robias, B. Vollan, and A. Wutich. 2011. ‘The Challenge of Understanding Decisions in Experimental Studies of Common-pool Resource Governance.’ Ecological Economics 70: 1571–1579.
  • Friedman D., and S.  Sunder. 1994. Experimental Methods:  A Primer for Economists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kopelman, S., J.M. Weber, and D.M. Messick. 2002. ‘Factors Influencing Cooperation in Commons Dilemmas: A Review of Experimental Psychological Research.’ In The Drama of the Commons, edited by E. Ostrom, T. Dietz, N. Dolšak, P.C. Stern, S. Stonich, E.U. Weber, and The Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington: National Academy Press.
  • Ostrom, E.  2006. ‘The Value-added of Laboratory Experiments for the Study of Institutions and Common-pool Resources.’ Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 61(2): 149–163.
  • Poteete, A., M.A. Janssen, and E. Ostrom. 2009. ‘Experiments in the Laboratory and the Field.’ In Working Together: Collective Action, The Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice, edited by A. Poteete, M.A. Janssen, and E. Ostrom, 229–265. Princeton: Princeton University Press.