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Status Quo Effects in Fairness Games: Acts of Commission vs. Acts of Omission

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Intent to help or harm is revealed more clearly by acts of commission that overturn the status quo than by acts of omission that uphold it. Both the law and culture make a central distinction between the two types of acts. Acts of commission elicit stronger reciprocal responses than do acts of omission. In this paper we compare reciprocal responses to both types of acts and ask whether behavior of subjects in two experiments is consistent with existing theory. The design of the experiments focuses on the axioms of revealed altruism theory (Cox, Friedman, and Sadiraj, 2008) that make it observationally distinct from other theories, Axiom R (for reciprocity) and Axiom S (for status quo). We find support for this theory in both experiments.

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File URL: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/RePEc/cbt/econwp/1201.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 12/01.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2012
Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:12/01
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  1. Rutstrom, E. Elisabet & Williams, Melonie B., 2000. "Entitlements and fairness:: an experimental study of distributive preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 75-89, September.
  2. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  4. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  5. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2008. "Revealed Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 31-69, 01.
  6. James C. Cox & Elinor Ostrom, & James M. Walker & Antonio Jamie Castillo & Eric Coleman & Robert Holahan & Michael Schoon & Brian Steed, 2009. "Trust in Private and Common Property Experiments," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 957-975, April.
  7. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  8. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1218-1221, September.
  9. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  10. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  11. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, 2007. "On Modeling Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Public Finance Review, , vol. 35(2), pages 311-332, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Keasey, Kevin & Moon, Philip, 1996. "Gambling with the house money in capital expenditure decisions: An experimental analysis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 105-110, January.
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  16. repec:cdl:ucscec:1004915 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Sheryl Ball & Catherine Eckel & Philip J. Grossman & William Zame, 2001. "Status in Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 161-188.
  18. Battalio, Raymond C & Kagel, John H & Jiranyakul, Komain, 1990. "Testing between Alternative Models of Choice under Uncertainty: Some Initial Results," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 25-50, March.
  19. Arkes, Hal R. & Joyner, Cynthia A. & Pezzo, Mark V. & Nash, Jane Gradwohl & Siegel-Jacobs, Karen & Stone, Eric, 1994. "The Psychology of Windfall Gains," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 331-347, September.
  20. Ritov, Ilana & Baron, Jonathan, 1992. "Status-Quo and Omission Biases," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 49-61, February.
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