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On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives


  • James C. Cox
  • Cary A. Deck


Data from 692 subjects in 11 experimental treatments provide a systematic exploration of the existence and nature of reciprocal behavior in two-person games. The experimental design discriminates between motivations of reciprocity and (nonreciprocal) other-regarding preferences. The existence of positive reciprocity is found to be dependent on the level of social distance but not the level of monetary payoff. The larger context in which a decision is made is found to have a significant effect on negative reciprocity. These findings on payoff levels, social distance, decision context, and reciprocity have implications for both theoretical modeling and experimental design. (JEL C70, C91, D63, D64) Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:43:y:2005:i:3:p:623-635

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers


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