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Indirect Reciprocity and Strategic Reputation Building in an Experimental Helping Game

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  • Dirk Engelmann
  • Urs Fischbacher

Abstract

We study indirect reciprocity and strategic reputation building in an experimental helping game. At any time only half of the subjects can build a reputation. This allows us to study both pure indirect reciprocity that is not contaminated by strategic reputation building and the impact of incentives for strategic reputation building on the helping rate. We find that pure indirect reciprocity exists, but also that the helping decisions are substantially a!ected by strategic considerations. We find that the behavioral pattern can best be captured by non-selfish preferences as assumed by reciprocity models. Finally, we find that strategic do better than non-strategic players and non-reciprocal do better than reciprocal players, casting doubt on previously proposed evolutionary explanations for indirect reciprocity.

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Paper provided by Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz in its series TWI Research Paper Series with number 34.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:twi:respas:0034

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Keywords: indirect reciprocity; reputation; experimental economics;

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  1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  2. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  9. Gary Bolton & Elena Katok & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "How Effective are Online Reputation Mechanisms?," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-25, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  10. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  11. M.A. Nowak & K. Sigmund, 1998. "Evolution of Indirect Reciprocity by Image Scoring/ The Dynamics of Indirect Reciprocity," Working Papers ir98040, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
  12. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  13. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  14. Seinen, Ingrid & Schram, Arthur, 2006. "Social status and group norms: Indirect reciprocity in a repeated helping experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 581-602, April.
  15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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  17. Harbaugh, William T, 1998. "The Prestige Motive for Making Charitable Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 277-82, May.
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