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Understanding Human Behaviour: Introduction to Game Theory and Shared Resources

University of Groningen , University of Warsaw and Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society via FutureLearn


​​Expand your understanding of social sciences

This four-week course will help you explore why sharing goods or tasks is difficult. You’ll enrich your understanding of the problems people have when they share and cooperate, and examine essential models that can support you in your future career in social sciences and beyond.

Discover social solutions to help tackle different problems

You’ll have a close-up look at situations when actions (that are rational from an individual point of view) lead to non-optimal social outcomes.

Investigating the mechanisms that underlie the common action and public goods problems, you’ll gain an insight into the behavioural dynamics affecting the ecological crisis we currently face.

You’ll also explore some social solutions to tackle such problems and reflect on the importance of strengthening social ties, norms, social control, sanctions, and institutions.

Understand how to use computational modelling to face challenges

You’ll explore social computation and computational modelling as a useful methodology. With this knowledge, you’ll systematically study the interactions between individual behaviour, group behaviour, and public goods.

Apply game theory and agent-based modelling (ABM) - without prior mathematical or programming skills

You’ll apply the basic concepts from game theory to explain some of the mechanisms behind the overuse of natural resources. This will then help you explore some potential solutions going forward.

Throughout the course, you will use examples, animations, and game-like tools, designed by the experts from University of Warsaw and University of Groningen – no mathematical and programming skills are required!

This course is designed for anyone interested in understanding human behaviour, especially when sharing and cooperation are involved.

It will be particularly useful for professionals dealing with challenges related to public goods, common resources, and cooperation.

If you are studying social sciences and are curious how a computational approach works, this course will be particularly helpful. If you are an academic teacher with no prior experience with this approach yet and you’re considering enriching your own courses, we encourage you to take the course, and use the materials for your students.

For the models used in the course we highly recommend that these are done on a large screen, either a PC, laptop or a tablet at least, as the models will not be easy to operate on a phone.


  • The challenges of cooperation
    • Welcome to Understanding Human Behaviour: Introduction to Game Theory and Shared Resources!
    • From a dirty kitchen to individual rationality
    • What will happen if everybody follows their best choices?
    • Game Theory and the Prisoner’s Dilemma
    • What is socially rational and why is dirty kitchen a problem?
    • Dirty kitchen, shared resources and game theory
    • Wrap up fo Week 1
  • Free riders and the Tragedy of the Commons
    • A crowded kitchen is a dirty kitchen
    • Introducing free riders
    • Multi-person games
    • How will they all end up?
    • Tragedy of the commons
    • Wrap up of Week 2
  • Problems with renewable goods
    • Common resources
    • Fishing experiment
    • Experimenting with the fishing model
    • Externalities
    • Wrap up of Week 3
  • How to succeed in managing ecological resources
    • Introducing norms and sanctions
    • How to preserve common resources and public goods?
    • Experimenting with policies
    • Preserving the fish stock
    • Wrap up of the course

Taught by

Agata Komendant-Brodowska


4.3 rating at FutureLearn based on 4 ratings

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