Give What You Can, Take What You Need – The Effect of Framing on Rule-Breaking Behavior in Social Dilemmas


To investigate the impact of framing on rule-breaking behavior in social dilemmas, we incorporated a rule in a one-shot resource game with two framing-treatments: One frame was a give-some dilemma (i.e., a variant of a public goods game) and the other frame a take-some dilemma (i.e., a variant of a commons dilemma game). In each frame, all participants were part of one single collective sharing a common good. Each participant was initially equipped with one of five different endowments of points from which they must give/could take amounts to/from the common good. The exact amounts of contributions/withdrawals were regulated by the rule. Participants decided whether to cooperate and comply with the rule or to break the rule to their own advantage and at the expense of the collective (i.e., giving lower/taking higher amounts). Results of an online-experiment with 202 participants showed a significantly higher proportion of individuals breaking the rule in the take-some frame than in the give-some frame. In addition, endowment size influenced the proportion of rule-breaking behavior in the take-some frame. However, the average amounts of points not given/taken too much were not different between the frames.

Author's Profile

Alexander Max Bauer
University of Oldenburg


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