Effects of communication mode and polling on cooperation in a commons dilemma
This study examined the effects of communication mode, both face-to-face (FTF) and computer-mediated communication (CMC), and polling on cooperation in a commons dilemma. Sixty-seven six-person groups used FISH, a computer program that uses a fishing metaphor to simulate a commons dilemma. Next, groups had a 10-minute discussion period, either FTF or via CMC, in which they devised a strategy for the second FISH session. Groups were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: FTF, no-poll CMC, end-poll CMC, and two-poll CMC. The polls allowed members to determine others' intended behavior, thus enhancing perceived consensus. Finally, groups used the FISH program again. Results indicted that experimental condition influenced consensus, with end-poll CMC groups reaching consensus most often, followed by FTF, two-poll CMC, and no-poll CMC groups. However, groups did not differ across experimental condition on resource pool sustainability or group profit. FTF groups were more satisfied with group performance than no-poll CMC groups and two-poll CMC and FTF groups had similar levels of satisfaction. The strategy the group decided to implement in the second FISH session had a significant effect on group profit but not resource pool sustainability. Thus, the harvest strategy implemented by the group may have been a stronger predictor of performance than experimental condition.