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On blame and reciprocity: Theory and experiments

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  • Çelen, Boğaçhan
  • Schotter, Andrew
  • Blanco, Mariana

Abstract

The theory of reciprocity is predicated on the assumption that people are willing to reward kind acts and to punish unkind ones. This assumption raises the question of what kindness is. In this paper, we offer a novel definition of kindness based on a notion of blame. This notion states that for player j to judge whether or not player i is kind to him, player j has to put himself in the position of player i, and ask if he would act in a manner that is worse than what he believes player i does. If player j would act in a worse manner than player i, then we say that player j does not blame player i. If, however, player j would be nicer than player i, then we say that player j blames player i. We believe this notion is a natural, intuitive and empirically functional way to explain the motives of people engaging in reciprocal behavior. After developing the conceptual framework, we test this concept by using data from two laboratory experiments and find significant support for the theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Çelen, Boğaçhan & Schotter, Andrew & Blanco, Mariana, 2017. "On blame and reciprocity: Theory and experiments," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 169(C), pages 62-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:169:y:2017:i:c:p:62-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2017.01.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Name-Correa, Alvaro J. & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2019. "Social pressure, transparency, and voting in committees," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 184(C).
    2. Fassnacht, Martin & Beatty, Sharon E. & Szajna, Markus, 2019. "Combating the negative effects of showrooming: Successful salesperson tactics for converting showroomers into buyers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 131-139.
    3. Miguel A. Costa‐Gomes & Yuan Ju & Jiawen Li, 2019. "Role‐Reversal Consistency: An Experimental Study Of The Golden Rule," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 57(1), pages 685-704, January.
    4. Gilbert G. Eijkelenboom & Ingrid Rohde & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2019. "The impact of the level of responsibility on choices under risk: the role of blame," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(4), pages 794-814, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism; Blame; Reciprocity; Psychological games;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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