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Reciprocity and uncertainty: When do people forgive?

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  • Gago, Andrés

Abstract

A sizable proportion of individuals act reciprocally. They punish and reward depending on the (un)kindness of those with whom they interact. In this paper, I explore whether individuals still reciprocate intentions when others lack full control over the consequences of their actions. By means of a dictator game with punishment opportunities, I show that unkind intentions are enough to trigger punishments, irrespectively of the outcome. By contrast, accidents are forgiven. To isolate how uncertainty over the result of an action affects the assessment of intentions, I control for other possible departures from self-profit maximization, such as distributional concerns or efficiency maximization. I find that the former also plays a role in respondents’ behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Gago, Andrés, 2021. "Reciprocity and uncertainty: When do people forgive?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:84:y:2021:i:c:s0167487021000027
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2021.102362
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Reciprocity; Uncertainty; Blame; Intentions; Dictator; Punishment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other

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