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Attribution and reciprocity


  • Sebald, Alexander


People infer causes and assign responsibilities for situations they find themselves in. In contradiction with classical presumptions about human behavior, it has been found that the assignment of responsibilities influences people's perceptions about the (un)kindness of others. Kindness perceptions, in turn, influence behavior. Dufwenberg and Kirchsteiger [Dufwenberg, M., Kirchsteiger, G., 2004. A theory of sequential reciprocity. Games Econ. Behav. 47 (2), 268-298] formalize this empirical finding in their 'theory of sequential reciprocity'. This paper extends their analysis by moves of chance. More precisely, an extended framework is presented which allows for the analysis of strategic interactions of reciprocal agents in situations in which material outcomes also depend on chance. Moves of chance influence the attribution of responsibilities, people's perceptions about the (un)kindness of others and, hence, their reciprocal behavior. Furthermore, with the help of two applications it is demonstrated how this framework can be used to explain experimental findings showing that people react very differently in outcomewise-identical situations depending on the moves of chance involved.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebald, Alexander, 2010. "Attribution and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 339-352, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:1:p:339-352

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
    2. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    4. Michal Krawczyk, 2011. "A model of procedural and distributive fairness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 70(1), pages 111-128, January.
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    7. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2009. "Dynamic psychological games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 1-35, January.
    8. Gary E Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "Fair Procedures: Evidence from Games Involving Lotteries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1054-1076, October.
    9. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    10. Gary Charness & David I. Levine, 2007. "Intention and Stochastic Outcomes: An Experimental study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1051-1072, July.
    11. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tobias Regner & Gerhard Riener, 2011. "Motivational Cherry Picking," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-029, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    2. Chlaß, Nadine & Riener, Gerhard, 2015. "Lying, Spying, Sabotaging -- Balancing Means and Aims --," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113222, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Chlaß, Nadine & Riener, Gerhard, 2015. "Lying, spying, sabotaging : procedures and consequences," Working Papers 15-18, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
    4. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    5. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:120-139 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Nadine Chlass & Peter G. Moffatt, 2017. "Giving in dictator games: Experimenter demand effect or preference over the rules of the game?," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 17-05, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    7. repec:spr:grdene:v:23:y:2014:i:5:d:10.1007_s10726-013-9370-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2013. "Intention-based reciprocity and the hidden costs of control," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 55-65.
    9. Luca Livio, 2018. "Friends or Foes? Optimal Incentives for Reciprocal Agents," Working Papers ECARES 2018-03, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Bartling, Björn & Engl, Florian & Weber, Roberto A., 2014. "Does willful ignorance deflect punishment? – An experimental study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 512-524.
    11. Magnus Hoffmann & Martin Kolmar, 2013. "Distributional Preferences in Probabilistic and Share Contests," CESifo Working Paper Series 4184, CESifo Group Munich.
    12. Tim Friehe & Verena Utikal, 2015. "Intentions Undercover - Hiding Intentions is Considered Unfair," CESifo Working Paper Series 5218, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Miettinen, Topi, 2013. "Promises and conventions – An approach to pre-play agreements," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 68-84.
    14. Bartling Björn & Grieder Manuel & Zehnder Christian, 2014. "Does competition justify inequality?," ECON - Working Papers 158, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Nov 2015.
    15. Woods, Daniel & Servátka, Maroš, 2016. "Nice to You, Nicer to Me: Does Self-Serving Generosity Diminish the Reciprocal Response?," MPRA Paper 74565, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:34-47 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Randolph Sloof & Ferdinand von Siemens, 2015. "Decision Initiation, Decision Implementation, and the Allocation of Decision Rights," CESifo Working Paper Series 5509, CESifo Group Munich.
    18. Gani Aldashev & Georg Kirchsteiger & Alexander Sebald, 2012. "Assignment procedure biases in randomized policy experiments," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 292, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    19. Kirchkamp, Oliver & Vollstädt, Ulrike, 2014. "Bilateral bargaining of heterogeneous groups—How significant are patient partners?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 433-441.
    20. Aldashev, Gani & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Sebald, Alexander, 2009. "Decision-making Procedures: A General Theory and Its Field Experimental Test," CEPR Discussion Papers 7365, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Mertins Vanessa & Albert Max, 2015. "Does Participation Increase Outcome Acceptance? Evidence from a Power-to-take Experiment," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(6), pages 584-607, December.


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