Perception of pollution as a social dilemma

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Emphasizing the social effect of contribution to pollution is not very effective persuation to prevent pollution. In order to explain why this is the case, we use our modified version of Umino's (1985, 1990) social dilemma model of pollution to investigate how individuals' perception of the harm of pollution affects the process and the outcome of their social decision-making. Our modified model introduces the assumption that each individual's perception of the harm of pollution is subject to Fechner's law. We show that the temptation for people to pollute the environment is independent of the actual amount of the harm created by a polluter but is dependent on the number of others who would contribute to pollution. We also examine the Pareto-optimality of the three possible equilibria in our model to find that people may perceive the problem of pollution as an N-person chicken game rather than an N-person prisoner's dilemma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-91
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Mathematical Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1993 Jul 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Fechner's law
  • Pollution
  • social dilemmas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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