This news release is available in German.
People are bad at getting a grip on collective risks. Climate change is a good example of this: the annual climate summits have so far not led to specific measures. The reason for this is that people attach greater value to an immediate material reward than to investing in future quality of life.
Therefore, cooperative behaviour in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.
Would you rather have 40 or save the climate? When the question is put in such stark terms, the common sense answer is obviously: "stop climate change!" After all, we are well-informed individuals who act for the common good and, more particularly, for the good of future generations. Or at least that's how we like to think of ourselves.
Unfortunately, the reality is rather different. Immediate rewards make our brains rejoice and when such a reward beckons we're happy to behave cooperatively. But if achieving a common goal won't be rewarded until a few weeks have gone by, we are rather less euphoric and less cooperative. And if, instead of money, we're offered the prospect of a benefit for future generations, our enthusiasm for fair play wanes still further.
An international team of researchers led by Manfred Milinski from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology has shown how poorly we manage collective risk. "Our experiment is based on an essay which Thomas Schelling, the Nobel laureate in economics, wrote back in 1995", explains Milinski. Schelling pointed out that it was today's generation which would have to make the efforts for climate protection, while it would be future generations who would gain the benefits. So the people of the presen
|Contact: Dr. Manfred Milinski|