IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/joepsy/v31y2010i3p456-470.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

When equality trumps reciprocity

Author

Listed:
  • Xiao, Erte
  • Bicchieri, Cristina

Abstract

Inequity aversion and reciprocity have been identified as two primary motives underlying human decision-making. However, because income and wealth inequalities exist to some degree in all societies, these two key motives can point to different decisions. In particular, when a beneficiary is less wealthy than the benefactor, a reciprocal action can lead to greater inequality. In this paper, we report data from a trust game variant where trustees' responses to kind intentions generate inequality in favor of investors. In relation to a standard trust game treatment where trustees' responses reduce inequality, the proportion of non-reciprocating decisions is twice as large when reciprocity promotes inequality. Moreover, we find that investors expect that this will be the case. Overall, we find that a majority (more than half) of trustees do not reciprocate when reciprocity increases inequality that favors investors. Our results call attention to the potential importance of inequality in principal-agent relationships and have important implications for policies aimed at promoting trust and cooperation.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiao, Erte & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2010. "When equality trumps reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 456-470, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:456-470
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167-4870(10)00022-X
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
    2. Greiner, Ben & Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2012. "The dynamic interplay of inequality and trust—An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 355-365.
    3. 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.
    4. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    6. Ernst Fehr & Michael Naef & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2006. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1912-1917, December.
    7. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
    8. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    9. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
    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. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. W. Guth & R. Schmittberger & B. Schwartz, 2010. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 291, David K. Levine.
    13. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan, 2002. "Altruism, equity, and reciprocity in a gift-exchange experiment: an encompassing approach," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 203-231, August.
    14. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
    15. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
    16. Ciriolo, Emanuele, 2007. "Inequity aversion and trustees' reciprocity in the trust game," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 1007-1024, December.
    17. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Mahmud, Minhaj & Martinsson, Peter, 2005. "Does stake size matter in trust games?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 365-369, September.
    18. John Geanakoplos & David Pearce & Ennio Stacchetti, 2010. "Psychological Games and Sequential Rationality," Levine's Working Paper Archive 587, David K. Levine.
    19. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    20. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    21. Houser, Daniel & Xiao, Erte & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2008. "When punishment fails: Research on sanctions, intentions and non-cooperation," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 509-532, March.
    22. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    23. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
    24. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 2002. "Altruistic punishment in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 415(6868), pages 137-140, January.
    25. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
    26. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
    27. Christopher T. Dawes & James H. Fowler & Tim Johnson & Richard McElreath & Oleg Smirnov, 2007. "Egalitarian motives in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 446(7137), pages 794-796, April.
    28. Bicchieri,Cristina, 2006. "The Grammar of Society," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521574907, November.
    29. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
    30. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    31. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    32. Andreoni, James & Brown, Paul M. & Vesterlund, Lise, 2002. "What Makes an Allocation Fair? Some Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-24, July.
    33. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchler, Erich & Weichbold, Andreas & Gächter, Simon, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-351, April.
    34. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    35. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
    36. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
    37. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    38. Lisa Anderson & Jennifer Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 2006. "Induced heterogeneity in trust experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(3), pages 223-235, September.
    39. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Xiao, Erte & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2008. "When Equality Trumps Reciprocity: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," MPRA Paper 9375, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Rodriguez-lara, Ismael, 2015. "Equal distribution or equal payoffs? Reciprocity and inequality aversion in the investment game," MPRA Paper 63313, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2005. "Expressed preferences and behavior in experimental games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 151-169, November.
    4. Cox, James C. & Friedman, Daniel & Gjerstad, Steven, 2007. "A tractable model of reciprocity and fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 17-45, April.
    5. Kamas, Linda & Preston, Anne, 2012. "Distributive and reciprocal fairness: What can we learn from the heterogeneity of social preferences?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 538-553.
    6. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
    7. Orhun, A. Yeşim, 2018. "Perceived motives and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 436-451.
    8. Stanca, Luca, 2010. "How to be kind? Outcomes versus intentions as determinants of fairness," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 19-21, January.
    9. Leibbrandt, Andreas & López-Pérez, Raúl & Spiegelman, Eli, 2023. "Reciprocal, but inequality averse as well? Mixed motives for punishment and reward," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 210(C), pages 91-116.
    10. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
    11. Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2016. "Norms Make Preferences Social," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 608-638, June.
    12. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    13. Stanca, Luca & Bruni, Luigino & Corazzini, Luca, 2009. "Testing theories of reciprocity: Do motivations matter?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-245, August.
    14. Croson, Rachel & Konow, James, 2009. "Social preferences and moral biases," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 201-212, March.
    15. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    16. Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2018. "No evidence of inequality aversion in the investment game," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(10), pages 1-16, October.
    17. Martijn J. van den Assem & Dennie van Dolder & Richard H. Thaler, 2012. "Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(1), pages 2-20, January.
    18. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 66, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    19. Croson, Rachel & Konow, James, 2007. "Double Standards: Social Preferences and Moral Biases," MPRA Paper 2729, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Verena Utikal & Urs Fischbacher, 2009. "On the attribution of externalities," TWI Research Paper Series 46, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:31:y:2010:i:3:p:456-470. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.