Counterterrorism strategies in the lab

Daniel G. Arce, Sneha Bakshi, Rachel T.A. Croson, Catherine C. Eckel, Enrique Fatas, Malcolm Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We conduct experiments to test the collective action dilemmas associated with defensive and proactive counterterror strategies. Defensive policies are associated with creating public 'bads' (e. g., a commons) whereas proactive policies are akin to the voluntary provision of public goods. When combined, the inefficiency of collective action is exacerbated, resulting in a situation known as a Prisoner's Dilemma squared (PD2). Deterministic versus probabilistic equivalent versions of the associated externalities are compared within a laboratory setting. Experimental results reveal that the collective action problem associated with counterterror strategies is deepened in uncertain environments, and is indeed a robust regularity that is not easily overcome; as individuals gain more experience, they become even more self-interested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-478
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Experiments were conducted in the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Economic Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. Thanks to Wendy Lee and Ravi Hanumara for programming. Beth Pickett provided organizational guidance, and Eric McLester and Bryan R. Reeves contributed research assistance. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS-0905060). We are especially grateful to the participants in the Center for Global Collective Action, Fourth Annual Conference on Terrorism and Policy, held at UT Dallas May 18–20, 2011, and to Todd Sandler in particular for very helpful comments.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Collective action
  • Commons game
  • Counterterror policy
  • Lab experiment
  • Prisoner's Dilemma


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