“Free riding” as a consequence of an agent’s adjustments to the publicly observed social involvement in the creation of the public good: the results of experimental research
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The paper describes the results of the experiments concerning sequential choices of economic agents, contributing to the creation of the public good. As based on the collected data, a model which explains the agents’ decisions as a function of publicly revealed average social contribution was constructed. Previous experiments and practice have shown that the average contribution of agents falls in the subsequent periods, which is typically explained as a consequence of rising agents’ frustration, resulting from the observation of the non-cooperative behaviour of other community members. The results described in this paper demonstrate that this is only partially true, as the increasing individual willingness to a free-ride is also observed in the situation when participants are misinformed about the growing level of the average social contribution. The paper concludes that an increasing tendency to free-ride is motivated by adjustments to average social contribution, as well as by the individual urge to maximize the short-term payoff.
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