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Reciprocity under moral wiggle room: Is it a preference or a constraint?

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  • Tobias Regner

    (University of Jena)

Abstract

We analyze reciprocal behavior when moral wiggle room exists. Dana et al. (Econ Theory 33(1):67–80, 2007) show that giving in a dictator game is inconsistent with distributional preferences as the giving rate drops when situational excuses for selfish behavior are provided. Our binary trust game closely follows their design. Only a preceding stage (safe outside option vs. enter the game) is added in order to introduce reciprocity. We find significantly lower rates of selfish choices in the trust baseline in comparison to our treatments that feature moral wiggle room manipulations and a dictator baseline. It seems that reciprocal behavior is not only due to people liking to reciprocate but also because they feel obliged to do so.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Regner, 2018. "Reciprocity under moral wiggle room: Is it a preference or a constraint?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(4), pages 779-792, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:21:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10683-017-9551-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10683-017-9551-2
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social preferences; Pro-social behavior; Experiments; Reciprocity; Moral wiggle room; Self-image concerns; Trust game;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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