Be necessary since perceptions are difficult to

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be necessary since perceptions are difficult to investigate, particularly with historical data, but it is distressing that their validity is seldom questioned. Despiteagenerallackoftheoretical,empirical,andmethodologicalrigor regarding perception, there are some noteworthy exceptions. Psychologists
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458 Burke have suggested that the individual resource use patterns of laboratory sub- jects are affected by their perceptions of the resource base and other users. For example, laboratory subjects will adjust their use up or down to match their perception of what others are doing, particularly when there is little variance in a group’s perceptions. If subjects perceive a severly depleted re- source base, they tend to lower their resource use, regardless of what others aredoing.Likewise,iftheyperceivearesourcebaseisunderutilized,theywill increase their use (see the literature review by Komorita and Parks, 1994). Also, O’Connor and Tindall (1990) noted that, while laboratory subjects usu- ally realized that they faced a dilemma between maximizing individual gains and avoiding collective ruin, they misunderstood what it would take to re- solve the dilemma. Most subjects thought they were cooperating to preserve the resource base, but in actuality their aggregate consumption was too high for sustainability. Stern (1976) presents laboratory evidence that educating common resource users about the consequences of individual resource use can lead to more sustainable use. In addition, a few researchers have suggested that perceptions can in- fluence collective strategies of resource use. These include rather general statements by Ostrom (1992), Ostrom and Schlager (1996), and Palmer and Sinclair (1996) that a mutual understanding among resource users about the costs and benefits of resource use is important to establishing mutually agreed upon rules of resource use and management. Cultural homogeneity among resource users may facilitate agreement about the costs and bene- fits of resource use. Likewise, a number of anthropologists have done some exciting work on conservation and perception that will be discussed in the next section. FATALISM IN ABORIGINAL CULTURES AND COMMON RESOURCE USE I have argued that the logic of the commons is premised on the assump- tion that users are significantly aware of resource degradation. In this and the next section, I will describe situations where this assumption does not hold and thus the “logic of the commons” cannot validly be used to explain re- source degradation. In which case there must be other reasons for common resource degradation. This section considers fatalism as a cause. Fatalism refers to beliefs that the processes of nature (such as forest fires and popula- tion dynamics of species) are due to spiritual forces that leave no room for human influence. Resource depletion is accepted as destiny or the intention of the gods. In this way, fatalism can prevent individuals from recognizing
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Hardin’s Theory of Commons: A Critique 459 that their resource use contributes to resource degradation. Fatalistic beliefs
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  • Spring '16
  • Tragedy of the Commons, Garrett Hardin, Common-pool resource

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