Along with the changes experienced in the landscape of global agricultural and food systems there is a rising pressure upon the open-access, common-pool resources and ecological environments of the globe. While the conventional theory underlies the vision of a tragedy, and fosters Leviathan-like remedies to overcome problems of overexploitation and destruction of the commons, growing evidence from field studies has called for a serious rethinking of the theoretical foundations for the analysis of collective-action problems. Yet, in moving beyond the conventional view, the lack of a theory of human valuation hinders both the prediction of agents’ variable responses to similar incentive structures and the development of a more general theory of collective-action. In this study, we test experimentally the explanatory power of a constructivist developmental model of adult personality systems which is particularly suitable for addressing situations where the individual and the collective gains conflict. The results suggest that the model provides a valuable source of information for the advancement of the theory of collective-action and has important implications for the development of intuitions aimed at overcoming social dilemmas.