Reflection on Public Goods Dilemma

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As a result of the human race taking Earth’s exploitation to the maximum, the media underlines the importance of eco-living more often than ever before. The problem, however, does not seem to be people’s unawareness, it is a mindset which prevents a change, as: “Even if I do change my habit and start living environmentally friendly, the others will not. I would not make a difference anyway”. Taking an example from my every day college life, I always see dormitory common room’s air conditioners running for the whole day when there is no one inside. However, the hall residents will always make sure the air conditioner in their room is switched off before they leave the room. Why is that? Using air conditioners in hall costs money, apart from those in common rooms. People tend to use resources less efficiently when they are free. This kind of behavior is driven by the self-interest attitude, where people tend to do things which are more convenient for them. In a short period of time, everyone can arbitrarily leave the air conditioners running without any consequences. In the long term, however, the hall office is likely to increase dormitory fees to cover the increase in electricity expenses. It turns out that all residents work on their own future disadvantage. People waste electrical energy because they believe others are also doing so. Similarly, if these people come to know that others are contributing their effort to save energy, they will be more willing to cooperate. Trust in reciprocity is therefore an important factor in dealing with the dilemma of public goods. Expectancy theory also suggests that one’s decision to behave in a certain way is due to their expectation of a desired outcome from that particular behavior. In this case, the desired outcome refers to the practice of switching off unused air conditioner by every resident which eventually result in no increase in dormitory fees. Therefore, educating hall residents about the importance of saving...
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