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Does strategic kindness crowd out prosocial behavior?

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  • Johnsen, Åshild A.
  • Kvaløy, Ola

Abstract

In repeated games, it is hard to distinguish true prosocial behavior from strategic behavior. In particular, a player does not know whether a reciprocal action is intrinsically or strategically motivated. In this paper, we experimentally investigate the relationship between intrinsic and strategic reciprocity by running a two-period repeated trust game. In the “strategic treatment” the subjects know that they will meet twice, while in the “non-strategic treatment” they do not know and hence the second period comes as a surprise. We find that subjects anticipate strategic reciprocity, and that intrinsic reciprocity is rewarded. In fact, the total level of cooperation, in which trust is reciprocated, is higher in the non-strategic treatment. This indicates that strategic reciprocity crowds out intrinsic reciprocity: If one takes the repeated game incentives out of the repeated game, one sees more cooperation and higher social surplus.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnsen, Åshild A. & Kvaløy, Ola, 2016. "Does strategic kindness crowd out prosocial behavior?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 1-11.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:132:y:2016:i:pa:p:1-11
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.09.016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2018. "Motivational crowding out effects in charitable giving: Experimental evidence," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 338, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:eee:gamebe:v:109:y:2018:i:c:p:436-451 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trust; Reciprocity; Repeated game; Motives; Intentions; Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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