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Does strategic kindness crowd out prosocial behavior?

Listed author(s):
  • Johnsen, Åshild A.
  • Kvaløy, Ola

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.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268116302074
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 132 (2016)
Issue (Month): PA ()
Pages: 1-11

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:132:y:2016:i:pa:p:1-11
DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.09.016
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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